Couple discusses daughter's slaying in video

Court sees 2007 sheriff's video of parents talking about daughter's death

tchitwood@ledger-enquirer.comSeptember 21, 2012 

For about 30 minutes Friday, a Russell County court was a fly on the wall of the sheriff's interview room in the early morning hours of Sunday, July 8, 2007.

With the jury dismissed, the judge and attorneys watched a video recording of Lisa Graham talking to her husband, Kevin, who had just learned his wife was a suspect in their daughter's murder.

Around midnight the previous Friday, Eufaula, Ala., truck driver Early Dinkins Jr. had found 20-year-old Shea Graham gunned down on Bowden Road west of Alabama Highway 165, near the Barbour County line. Investigators focused on Kenneth Walton, who worked for Kevin Graham.

They arrested Walton, who confessed and told them he killed the woman at the direction of her mother. The mother also was arrested, and now stands trial on a capital murder charge. Walton has pleaded guilty and is expected to testify against her.

Other incriminating evidence is to come from Lisa Graham herself, in video recordings from the sheriff's office, where she was questioned repeatedly after detectives learned the murder weapon belonged to her.

Defense attorney Margaret Young Brown has objected to admitting these recordings as evidence, arguing that her client's conversation with her husband is subject to spousal privilege and that Lisa Graham was not properly advised of her Miranda rights.

With the jury dismissed at 3:50 p.m. Friday, Sheriff Heath Taylor was called to the stand to talk about the night the woman he once knew as a fellow high school student was questioned in her daughter's death.

Taylor in 2007 was in charge of then-Sheriff Tommy Boswell's investigative division.

On the stand he said Walton confessed to killing Shea and told authorities "it was at the direction of Lisa."

Starting about 11:30 p.m. Saturday, July 7, 2007, and continuing into Sunday, investigators retrieved Lisa Graham's 9 mm pistol from the home of a close friend and Westside Court neighbor who reportedly had planned to clean it for her.

Then they took Lisa Graham in for questioning, an interrogation that Taylor said went on for hours.

Before Taylor talked to her, Lisa Graham's husband paid a visit.

It was that conversation the court heard Friday, the camera's perspective high overhead.

Kevin Graham mentions the emotional outbursts his wife had with their daughter.

"And three days later, everything is fine," she counters.

Referring to elderly neighbor Warren Thompson, Kevin Graham tells her "Papa" said she brought him her gun the previous Friday, the day Shea was found dead.

"I don't know why this happened," she says. She says she may have taken the gun to Thompson to clean, not knowing Walton had taken it from her truck and put it back. She doesn't expect her husband to believe her. "You believe what you want to believe, because you always have," she says.

Later she says Walton got the gun from her vehicle: "Kenny got the gun out of my truck of his own free will and you know that."

She despairs of anyone believing her. When her husband says she may be charged in her daughter's death, she says: "I don't care, Kevin. My life can't get no worse than it is right now." She later adds, "People get accused of doing stuff they didn't do all the time."

She should have left town a month or two ago, she says. "I told you that child would ruin my life, didn't I?" she says of Shea, later adding, "She's dead and she's still haunting me."

She mentions that Walton called her after his arrest.

He asked her about paying his bond, and mentioned investigators finding blood in his truck.

She tells her husband their lives have been in turmoil since they became associated with Walton.

"He's trying to get back at me," says her husband.

The conversation turns to whether she set up the murder while meeting Walton earlier on the night Shea was killed.

They met in the genealogy department of the Columbus Public Library on Macon Road. Investigators believe that's when she gave Walton her gun.

She and Walton didn't discuss Shea, she tells her husband.

Walton called her while she was at the library and asked to come talk to her about his ex-wife, with whom he considered reconciling.

"We didn't talk about Shea," she says.

This segment of video shown in court Friday ends with Taylor entering the room. Court adjourned shortly after 5 p.m. Judge George Greene has asked jurors to return at 9:30 a.m. Monday. He has yet to rule on the video recordings, with his review unfinished.

With few defense objections, prosecutors earlier Friday detailed the cold-blooded brutality of the murder with investigators' descriptions of the crime scene.

Evidence showed Shea Graham was squatting beside the open passenger door of Walton's pickup when he, having relieved himself on the driver's side, stepped around and gunned her down -- leaving her in puddles of blood and urine, her shorts and underwear at her calves.

Investigators searching his truck said they found a blood splatter on an interior, carpeted panel at the bottom of the passenger's side door.

Besides frequent family conflicts, authorities have said Lisa Graham had another motive to want her daughter dead: She feared Shea would jump bail on charges involving a drive-by shooting in Columbus.

Shea Graham was indicted in Muscogee County on four counts of aggravated assault in connection with that case.

Prosecutors alleged she drove past a crowd on Ginny Avenue while passenger Stanley R. Heath fired into it, wounding one man.

Heath pleaded guilty and is serving a seven-year prison sentence.

Russell County investigators said Shea Graham was to appear in court in Columbus the morning after she was shot.

Lisa Graham mentions that on the surreptitious video played in court Friday.

She tells her husband she never would have kept her pistol had she known it was used in a murder, because she gave Shea that same advice after the drive-by, telling her: "Get rid of the gun if you shot somebody with it, you idiot."

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