The trial for Kenneth Neal Walker, 55, and his wife, Sherry Walker, 60, who are charged with injury to a child, began Sept. 25. The couple, who have been jailed since February, could receive probation or up to life in prison, prosecutor Jason Parrish has said.
Because prosecutors and defense attorneys Scott Ellis and Cameron Castleberry requested Monday that Judge Jack Skeen Jr. allow them extra time to examine trial transcripts to prepare their closing arguments, Skeen agreed that both sides could argue their cases today. Both Walkers declined to testify in their own behalf Monday.
Tyler police were dispatched to the couple’s home Feb. 28 after a report of burns to the 2-year-old’s feet. The Walkers called the police.
In the taped police interviews, Detective Michelle Brock asked Walker and his wife, in separate interviews, about their different versions of how their granddaughter was injured.
During her first interview with police on Feb. 29, Mrs. Walker said she heard water running in her home as she folded clothes in another room on the morning of Feb. 28, then heard her granddaughter screaming inside the master bathroom.
Mrs. Walker said she ran to the bathroom, but the child locked the door and she was unable to get inside. She told police she called for her husband who was able to open the door, and they found their granddaughter inside crying and injured.
In a second interview on March 2, Mrs. Walker told Detective Brock that as her husband lay on the couch, she fixed breakfast for the granddaughter and two other young grandchildren who live with the couple.
Detective Brock told Mrs. Walker in the taped interview that the granddaughter’s injuries were not consistent with what the Walkers reported.
In court, Detective Brock said to the jury that the burns were below the ankles and on the bottom of the feet, indicating that someone had held the child’s feet in the scalding water without setting her down inside it.
Detective Brock told the jury that if the burns were accidental on the child’s feet, there would be splash burn marks on the feet and on the child’s body where she would have fallen down trying to get out of the tub.
Defense attorney Scott Ellis demonstrated for the jury that it would be difficult for Kenneth Walker, who has a history of heart and back problems, to hold a squirming, 27-pound child steady. He asked Detective Brock to hold a doll weighted with sand and water and the same height as the Walker’s grandchild to demonstrate the difficulty.
Ellis also measured the inches across the shoulders of Kenneth and Shelley Walker, saying it would be impossible for both of them to stand two across in a 23-inch-wide bath tub.
Dr. Scott Lawrence, an emergency room physician for East Texas Medical Center who did not treat the Walker’s granddaughter, was a witness for the defense. He testified Friday that the child’s injuries could have been caused by accident, saying the 2-year-old was not able to get out of the bathtub when she realized the water was scalding because of a sliding door along the side of the tub.
Lawrence explained how the burns could have happened accidentally. He said if the child was playing in the bathtub and her 3-year-old brother was standing outside the tub unsupervised for an extended period of time, it was possible one of them had turned on the hot water, which at first, would run cool.
The girl could have been standing at the back of the tub, which is shallower, Lawrence said. “By the time she realizes the water is hot, she must walk to the front of the tub, where the water is much hotter. At that point, she is doing anything she can to get out of that tub,” Lawrence told the jury.
The doctor testified that the girl’s brother, who did not mean to hurt her, may have prevented her from leaving the tub. Lawrence said the girl, who had fresh scratches on her upper arm and thigh, could have received those from crawling over the sliding door track on the tub. Photos of the tub taken after police arrived showed the sliding door slightly bent and off its track.
Neither of the Walkers has any criminal history.