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Five-year-old murder case closed with guilty plea

Justice
Posted at 10:15 AM, Dec 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-15 11:20:48-05

After more than five years, the case of a Church Point woman's death has been closed.

In 2016, Bethany Walters died from a gunshot wound to the head. At the time, St. Landry Parish Sheriff's deputies conducted a suspicious circumstances death investigation, saying that it could be a homicide or a suicide.

The man she was living with, Michael Guillory, eventually was indicted on a charge of second-degree murder in the case, and his trial was set several times in 2020. The indictment happened under a previous District Attorney.

Today, the current District Attorney, Chad Pitre, announced that he had taken a guilty plea from Guillory on a charge of negligent homicide in Walters' death, citing a "lack of direct evidence of guilt."

Walters' family hired their own experts to examine the evidence, and brought the reports of those experts to the DA's office.

After looking at that evidence, "our prosecution team determined that while this new evidence supported the conclusion that Bethany did not die of suicide, the evidence also left questions as to the manner of death," wrote Assistant DA Alisa Gothreaux.

The prosecution team determined that it would be difficult to convince a jury that Guillory had the specific intent to kill Walters, which is one of the elements of the crime that the prosecution must prove at trial for a conviction.

"The victim's family urged the District Attorney to allow the jury to decide the defendant's fate," the release states. "Pitre said he understood the family's disappointment but cautioned that the law requires the state to prove specific intent which was missing in this case."

The maximum sentence for negligent homicide in Louisiana is five years in prison.