RIVERSIDE – An ex-con who asphyxiated his live-in girlfriend after she returned to their Riverside apartment high on drugs was convicted today of first-degree murder.
A Riverside jury deliberated about a day before finding 51-year-old Drake Von Walker guilty in the 2011 death of 32-year-old Maisha Shante Walters.
Walker, who has a 1992 manslaughter conviction for killing his first wife, faces 50 years to life in prison when he’s sentenced by Riverside County Superior Court Bernard Schwartz on June 6.
According to the prosecution, Walker killed Walters on the afternoon of June 23, 2011.
They lived together for five years, each of them nursing methamphetamine addictions and regularly engaging in heated arguments, during which Walker beat the victim, according to a trial brief filed by Deputy District Attorney Michael Kersse. He said Walters’ drug dependency was so serious she could not hold down a job and relied on the defendant for ”housing, money, transportation — all the necessities of life.”
Walker told detectives that on the day of her death, the victim returned to their Magnolia Avenue apartment ”tore up and high,” coming down from a days-long meth binge, Kersse said.
Neighbors recalled hearing the couple yelling at one another throughout the morning. Walker later told investigators that he treated injuries the woman received while on the street, then ”put her to bed.” He said when he came back to check on her that evening, Walters was dead.
On the afternoon of June 24, the defendant walked to a nearby police station and reported her death, describing the victim as an ”occasional girlfriend … and a prostitute,” according to court papers.
When investigators visited the apartment, they found Walters’ nude body, partially covered on a bed, exhibiting signs of a physical assault, with blood stains on the floor and a pillow tossed behind the bedroom door.
An autopsy revealed evidence she had been smothered, though the finding was not conclusive. Walters also had a high level of meth in her bloodstream, according to court documents.
After his arrest, the defendant was recorded on a jailhouse telephone telling friends and relatives he must be deranged for repeating the same type of crime inside of 14 years and was hoping that — as with the death of his wife — he could ”take a deal” to plead the crime down to manslaughter, according to the prosecution.