WATERTOWN — In text messages leading up to her murder, Nichole Walters depicted a troubled marriage in which she was “emotionally and physically broke,” revealed she got her husband to move out of their home and considered a divorce.
In Friday morning’s testimony, Assistant District Attorney Harmony A. Healy presented dozens of text messages between Mrs. Walters and husband Justin Walters, a former Fort Drum soldier, before she was killed from multiple gunshots in front of their County Route 46 home on July 9, 2017.
By then, her husband had pointed a gun at her on at least one occasion, his excessive drinking had caused blackouts and he was kicked out of the house to live in the barracks on post, only to return, the texts show.
He sent text messages that said his patience had run so thin that he could no longer have their 3-year-old son Axel and her friend’s two children in the house at the same time he was there, according to testimony.
She was worried for their son and that her husband’s behavior made the toddler afraid of him, according to testimony.
By then, she moved out of their bedroom and avoided him because she “didn’t know what he was going to do next.”
Three days before she died, she wrote that his life was out of control and it was too late to continue.
“I can’t do it anymore,” she wrote to him at 1:45 p.m. July 6 and said that he had been “mean and abusive” to her in a text message a minute later.
About an hour later, she wrote, “go find some place else to be.”
Before that, Walters promised that he was going to cut down on his drinking, only starting after 7 p.m. from then on.
The text messages were gleaned from the couple’s two cell phones.
State police Investigator Nathan Baker, who’s an expert at retrieving evidence from cell phones and other devices, read dozens of text messages in the otherwise silent Jefferson County courtroom.
During cross-examination, Walters’ attorney, Edward Narrow, got Investigator Baker to acknowledge that the prosecutor had him read only text messages that were helpful to the prosecution’s case.
The investigator then testified there were text messages that indicated Walters was trying to get better, he was in therapy and was taking medications for his mental health issues.
In one message, Walters told his wife that his therapist had instructed him “not to bring his therapy home,” the investigator testified.
In another, Walters said that he wanted to make things better for his wife.
“I want to do things for us,” he wrote. “I want to do things for us. I’ll do better.”
The former Fort Drum staff sergeant also is accused of killing state Trooper Joel R. Davis during a domestic incident in the driveway of the defendant’s home and injuring Mrs. Walters’ friend, Rebecca Finkle, who was living in a shed with her family on the Walters’ property.
Walters is charged with three counts of first-degree murder. He pleaded not guilty to all 55 counts against him in a grand jury indictment.
During afternoon testimony, state police Investigator Michael Kosakowski went through the locations of all the shell casings that were found at the murder scene.
He also talked about the many bullet holes that penetrated exterior and interior walls of the Walters’ house and a nearby shed that occurred during the shooting.
After about two hours of testimony, Investigator Kosakowski said investigators ended up finding a total of 64 .223 caliber shell casings at the scene. There could have been more that were never detected, he said.
After a search of the house, an arsenal of other weapons and ammunition were found inside. About 35 fully loaded magazines in an ammo box and five other magazines in a storage room closet were discovered, according to his testimony.
He also testified that a box of Nazi paraphernalia was found inside the house. He did not explain the significance of those items.
Near the end of the day, state police Investigator Danielle Kendall testified that she attended the autopsies of Trooper Davis and Mrs. Walters.
A series of photos were displayed on a large monitor that showed where the only bullet that struck Trooper Davis went through his undershirt, through the left breast pocket of his uniform shirt and pierced through the curved area of his bulletproof vest.
The contents in the breast pocket — a card that troopers are required to carry, some gum and a pen — were damaged by the bullet as it passed through, hitting him in the heart, Investigator Kendall testified.
The trial continues Monday morning.