SARASOTA, Fla. -- Kristen Bury, the mother of 7-week-old Chance Walsh, struck a deal with the state to testify against her husband. Bury told detectives Joseph Walsh beat and choked her son and left his decomposing body in his crib for several days before burying him in a shallow grave.
“It’s going to have an impact…let’s face it, she was probably the state’s most critical witness,” says Derek Byrd, Attorney for The Byrd Law Firm, PA.
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Bury appears to have committed suicide over the weekend just 12 days after seeing Walsh in a Sarasota courtroom over the ashes of their first son Duane.
Does Bury’s prior statement carry any weight? Byrd says, “What happens in court in those statements are called 'hearsay.' It is her words, her signature, but she wasn’t subject to cross-examination. A defendant has a constitutional right to confront their witness, and cross-examine their witness have their credibility challenged in front of the jury.”
Walsh’s Public Defender says they are shocked and saddened by Bury’s death. In a statement to 10News WTSP Defense Attorney Lori Huskisson writes:
We were very shocked and saddened to learn about Kristen Bury-Walsh’s untimely death. In regards to the upcoming trial, Ms. Bury’s death does not have much of an impact for the legal defense in Mr. Walsh’s case. It has always been our position that Kristen Bury was not a credible witness in this case. Ms. Bury’s credibility would have been challenged had she testified at trial but it is with our greatest sympathies that Kristen chose to end her life in this manner. We would like to express our heartfelt condolences to her loved ones at this very difficult time.
The prosecution says the state will move forward with the murder trial against Chance’s father but Bury’s death will change how they prosecute the case.
Byrd says, “They still have -- I’m sure -- forensic evidence linking him to the murder. I don’t know what statement he gave law enforcement after the fact but he may have also given statements that are incriminating. There are ways they can put the case back together again.”
Both sides will have their say when Walsh goes to trial on June 5.
Bury's plea deal would have given her a 25-year sentence.
If found guilty, Walsh faces life in prison.