Woman gets life for stabbing to death her aunt, cousin in Fort Valley

bpurser@macon.comAugust 26, 2013 

FORT VALLEY -- A Montezuma woman will spend her life in prison after pleading guilty Monday to stabbing to death her aunt and cousin, both of Fort Valley, in June 2009.

Lillian Walker, 59, pleaded guilty to two counts of malice murder and one count of armed robbery.

In the attack on her 85-year-old aunt, Lillian Graves, and her 65-year-old cousin, Agnes Stewart, in their home, Walker rifled through their purses to steal cash, checks, credit cards and prescription drugs.

Walker also was accused of stealing Graves’ Jeep Cherokee. The related charge of theft by taking was dismissed as part of the plea agreement, but Walker agreed to the facts of the case as presented by prosecutors, which included the vehicle theft.

Johnnie Brooks Booker, Graves’ daughter and Stewart’s sister, addressed Superior Court Judge Edgar Ennis before sentencing.

“Their lives were full of giving, sustaining, supporting, helping and rejoicing,” Brooks said. “My sister had moved into a second career as a minister -- dedicated to helping to bring people to know God’s love and his purpose.

“They were women who consistently shared their blessings and God’s goodness with their family, friends, church and community,” she said.

Booker said her mother and sister lost their lives at the hands of someone they had constantly helped throughout her life. Walker was named after Graves, who was Walker’s mother’s sister.

“As I sit here today at this hearing, I still want answers that I know I will never receive from the person who took two beloved lives. Why? Why? What sent you to this place that you would commit such a heinous act?” asked Booker.

Walker, who was in a wheelchair, declined to make a statement during the sentencing hearing, which followed her guilty plea Monday.

Booker asked the judge to render the stiffest sentence allowed by law.

“I have often wished that Lillian Walker would suffer the same fate she gave my mother and sister,” Booker said. “But in consultation with my son ... and my nephews ... we decided to spare her life and to leave her fate to God and the courts.”

Walker previously faced the death penalty, but that was dropped earlier this year.

Ennis sentenced Walker to two consecutive life sentences, which means she would not be eligible for parole until serving 60 years in prison.

“Miss Lillian Walker will never draw another breath outside of her prison cell,” noted David Cooke, district attorney for the Macon Judicial District, which includes Peach County.

The plea and sentence achieved justice for the community and gave the family satisfaction and closure, Cooke also said afterward.

Graves, a retired nurse, had recently turned 85 before her death. Stewart, a retired Peach County High School teacher, was a deacon at St. Peter AME Church in Fort Valley and a former president of Fort Valley’s Habitat for Humanity chapter.

During sentencing, Ennis said he agreed to the plea and sentence that was submitted jointly by the prosecution and defense. He added the agreed upon punishment was still a serious consequence.

Burt Baker, a supervising attorney with the Georgia Capital Conflict Office, submitted a 40-page pre-sentencing report that included Walker’s extensive mental history and alleged abuse when she was a child. She was previously found competent to stand trial.

Baker told the judge he was not offering the information as an excuse for what happened but as mitigation in sentence consideration.

Afterward, Baker said Walker suffers from paranoid schizophrenia. He noted that what happens to a person as a child shapes the adult she becomes.

Walker also suffers from congestive heart failure, he said.

Baker expressed sympathy to the victims’ families on behalf of the Georgia Capital Conflict Office.

Oscar Trice, Walker’s boyfriend, who was present in the courtroom for the hearing, declined comment. Ellois West, Walker’s sister who was also in the courtroom, said afterward only, “I love her.”

The plea averted what was expected to be a bench trial.

To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559.

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