Saturday, June 5, 2010

Rape-slaying of retired St. Louis journalist nets sex offender life without parole

A man with a history of sex crimes got life without parole Tuesday, June 1 for the rape-slaying of a retired St. Louis journalist. Nancy Miller, 59, was slain February 1, 2008 by a repeat sex offender. Brian Walters, who turned 30 the day of the sentencing, broke into Miller's Chesterfield, MO condo and attacked her when she encountered him. After raping Miller, Walters stabbed Miller with a knife until it broke, then got another knife he used to slit her throat. She didn't die immediately, even after Miller left and poured bleach over her body, which an autopsy showed suffered 50 stab wounds.

He was arrested in 1999 in Charlotte, N.C., accused of beating and raping a teenage girl there, according to police and court records. He pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of assault and false imprisonment. A judge sentenced Walters to 120 days in jail and released him on time served. Later that year, a police officer found Walters outside Parkway North High School before dawn. Walters drove at the officer, who got out of the way.

Months later, Walters was charged with several burglaries in Maryland Heights. During one, he had cut the screen of the apartment of three female college students and stolen a pair of underwear from each of their dressers. For the encounter at Parkway and the burglaries, Walters was imprisoned for 2½ years.

In May 2003, he was caught in the garage of a home in Chesterfield. Police said he had been casing homes and keeping a journal of the comings and goings of women. He was sentenced to seven years for the burglary and paroled after serving about 4½ years.

St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch originally sought the death penalty for Walters, but the perpetrator's mother's cooperation with the investigation led McCulloch to offer Walters a plea deal. That deal, which Walters took, featured a sentenced of two life without parole terms plus 45 years. "Today marks the end of a tragic situation. From the very beginning of this case, my primary concern was justice for Nancy Miller and the members of her family. This … was an appropriate sentence, all things considered."
During the sentencing hearing, presided over by Circuit Judge Richard C. Bresnahan, Walters never made a statement, but the victim's brother, Ben Nix did.  "Nancy was the glue that made us even closer. She was the most loving, giving, caring human being on this Earth." Nix went on to tell how friends put together a memorial book, featuring her old St. Louis Post Dispatch columns.

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