C.A. Upholds Convictions of Killers
Dubbed ‘Bonnie and Clyde’
By Kenneth Ofgang, Staff Writer/Appellate Courts - Metnews.com
June 27, 2005
couple who referred to each other as “Bonnie and Clyde,” according to
a friend who turned prosecution witness against them, were properly
convicted of first degree murder with special circumstances, the
Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled Friday.
Div. Two said there was
“overwhelming,” “consistent,” and “compelling” evidence that Joshua
Wahlert and Tracy Leann Garrison had murdered Michael Willison in
2001, and that they had done so in the course of a robbery and
kidnapping. Possible evidentiary or instructional errors by Riverside
Superior Court Judge Christian F. Thierbach were harmless beyond a
reasonable doubt, Justice Jeffrey King wrote for the panel.
Both defendants were sentenced to life
imprisonment without parole. Wahlert drew an additional term of 25
years to life for shooting the victim, along with a three-year term on
a separate charge of brandishing a weapon, while Garrison received a
one-year enhancement for participating in a crime with an armed
Wahlert was 26, and Garrison 22, when
the jury found them guilty of killing the 39-year-old Willison, who
lived in Temecula. The pair were tried before separate juries that
delivered their verdicts within 90 minutes of each other.
Willison was viciously beaten, stabbed
five times in the chest and neck, and shot twice in the head. A jogger
found his body near some large rocks in a rural area of the county.
Police tied the killing to Wahlert
after he was arrested on the unrelated brandishing charge. Police
discovered that the truck Wahlert was driving at the time belonged to
Willison, and found clothing stained with the victim’s blood, along
with his checks, credit cards and business cards.
Garrison was involved romantically
with both Wahlert and Willison, and all three were methamphetamine
users, witnesses testified. A friend and fellow user, Jon Ramirez,
said that Garrison had talked to him about a plan for her and Wahlert
to rob and kill Willison, take his money, then go to Las Vegas to get
Ramirez testified that nine days
before the body was found, he and Willison were smoking
methamphetamine when Garrision and Wahlert came in and abducted
Willison at gunpoint. Wahlert was the only one who was armed but
Garrison appeared a willing participant, he said.
Wahlert later told him that they had
killed Willison and gave him some of Willison’s property, he
The juries also heard a tape recorded
phone conversation in which the defendants implicated themselves and
each other. The “pretext” call was arranged by two detectives, one of
whom was with Wahlert at one location and the other with Garrison at a
While the appeals were pending, the
U.S. Supreme Court decided
Crawford v. Washington (2004) 541 U.S. 36, concluding that
the use of “testimonial” hearsay—out-of-court statements of other
persons obtained for use in prosecution, as to which the declarant
cannot be cross-examined—violates the Confrontation Clause of the U.S.
Garrison’s court-appointed appellate
lawyer, Richard A. Levy of Torrance, argued that because Wahlert did
not testify at trial and could not otherwise be cross-examined, the
use of his statements on the tape violated
King agreed. The justice said the call
was not a “casual” conversation akin to what occurs when the police
place suspects together in a patrol car, as prosecutors contended, but
a carefully planned means of gathering evidence.
But there was no reasonable
possibility that Garrison would have received a more favorable verdict
if the jury had not heard the tape, King said, citing testimony from
several witnesses to whom Garrison related the details of the crime.
While that testimony was not entirely consistent, the justice added,
it was clear that Garrison was a willing and active participant in the
murder, as well as the events leading up to it.
“As to her participation in the
murder, whether as a direct perpetrator or as an aider and abettor of
Wahlert’s actions, the evidence of Garrison’s guilt was overwhelming
without regard to Wahlert’s statements during the pretext call,” the
King also rejected, in an unpublished
portion of the opinion, Wahlert’s claim that the verdict was defective
because jurors might have erroneously believed that they could
convict him of first degree murder based on implied malice.
The justice agreed that jurors might
have been confused because Thierbach gave the standard instructions on
murder, both with express and implied malice, but did not give an
instruction that murder with implied malice is of the second, not the
But since jurors found the
kidnap-murder and robbery-murder special circumstance allegations to
be true, King explained, they necessarily believed that Wahlert was
guilty of first degree felony murder and it made no difference whether
they also believed him guilty of malice and premeditation.
The case is
People v. Wahlert, 05
scare me to death,” Riverside, California Superior Court Judge
Christian Thierbach said to 22-year-old Tracy Garrison before
sentencing her to life behind bars with no chance for parole. “You are
a frightening, frightening individual.”
her lover, Joshua Blaine Wahlert, into kidnapping and killing inland
valley drug dealer Michael Willison, and together the pair was
convicted in January 2004 by separate juries of murder with various
enhancements that meant the pair will never leave prison.
Last month, the California Court
of Appeals upheld the verdicts, which had been appealed in light of a
U.S. Supreme Court case that the use of “testimonial”
hearsay-out-of-court statements of other persons obtained for use in
prosecution, as to which the declarant cannot be
cross-examined-violates the Confrontation Clause of the U.S.
The police had tapes of Wahlert
discussing the crimes, but because Wahlert did not take the stand,
Garrison argued on appeal that she could not confront an accuser. The
appeals court disagreed, saying the Supreme Court case did not apply
Wahlert was living in an RV on
property belonging to a friend’s father, and Garrison was a periodit
overnight guest. However, court testimony revealed that Garrison and
Wahlert argued frequently and she would leave for days at a time to be
Willison and Garrison were
methamphetamine users and on one occasion while Willison was buying
drugs, Garrison told another friend, Jon Ramirez, that she had a plan
to rob Willison.
She wanted to give his truck to
Wahlert and the two of them would head to Las Vegas to get married.
Another time, Wahlert told Ramirez that he wanted “to take everything
On January 14, 2001, Garrison
and Wahlert, who referred to each other as “Bonnie and Clyde,” made
good on their threats.
Willison had just finished
smoking meth with Ramirez when Wahlert and Garrison showed up at
Ramirez’s home and Wahlert pulled a gun.
Pleading with Wahlert to spare
his life because he had two children, Wahlert told him to shut up and
gagged his victim. Garrison then taped his hands and mouth with duct
According to Ramirez, who
admitted not doing anything to stop the assault, Wahlert never
threatened Garrison. It appeared to Ramirez that Wahlert and Garrison
were “working together.”
While Garrison took the keys to
the truck she coveted for her “Clyde,” Wahlert directed Willison to
get in. The trio then drove to a secluded Riverside County area where
Willison was shot twice, beaten and repeatedly stabbed.
Then, less than an hour after
the the intial attack, Wahlert returned to check on Willison and found
him still breathing, according to investigators’ testimony. He had
managed to crawl about six feet from where he had been shot. That’s
when Wahlert stabbed Willison, according to testimony. A jogger found
his body a little over a week later.
After killing Willison, the
couple returned to Ramirez’s home and gave him Willison’s ring and a
necklace as “compensation to help you out for what went on,” he
They tried to use one of
Willison’s credit cards to buy gas for the truck, but it was denied.
The couple fled when the attendant went to call police.
Wahlert told another friend that
he had taken the truck “from a dude that he killed.” He only intended
“to rob the guy and stuff got out of hand.”
The friend testified that
Wahlert told him “he shot him, stabbed him, and split.”
A few days later, Wahlert called
Ramirez to let him know he and Garrison were heading to Vegas, and
asked Ramirez to take care of Willison’s body, which had been left
under a tarp.
On January 20, in a drug-induced
haze, Wahlert was arrested for brandishing a firearm. While he was
being booked, he commented, “I’m looking at 60 years, they just
haven’t found out the half of it yet.”
Police found all sorts of
incriminating evidence in the truck, including blue jeans with
Willison’s blood on them, a payroll check made out to Willison and
business cards for his painting business.
After the jogger reported the
gruesome find in the rocks outside Temecula, California, the police
realized that Willison’s truck had been impounded and found his Social
Security Card in the property taken from Wahlert.
Under questioning, Wahlert
admitted the crime and wrote a letter to Willison’s children
confessing the crime. He told authorities that Garrison was there, but
not responsible. She was picked up for interrogation.
Still under the impression that
Garrison was only a witness — she would only admit to being in the
truck at the scene of the crime — police arranged for Wahlert and her
to talk via cell phone.
“During the call, Wahlert and
Garrison each made statements directly or indirectly implicating
themselves and each other,” wrote the California appellate court.
They began to fight over the
phone, with Garrison denying Wahlert’s claims that she told him to “do
“You didn’t tell me to do it?”
Wahlert asked as investigators listened in.
“Nope!” Garrison replied.
“Oh, that’s cold, all right,” he
responded. “My life’s over because I cared about you.”
“Well, then, you shouldn’t have
done it,” she said.
Seeing the handwriting on the
wall, Wahlert told the investigators that Garrison had “used me to get
this dude done.” He then told authorities that she had taped
Garrison also bragged to friends
about her role in the killing, but continued to deny participating to
At one point she claimed that
she was as much a victim as Willison, and that she went along with the
plan because she was afraid Wahlert would kill her, too.
The two juries took less than
three hours to return guilty verdicts against the pair.
It was clear to the appeals
judges that Garrison was a willing and active participant in the
murder, as well as the events leading up to it.
“As to her participation in the
murder, whether as a direct perpetrator or as an aider and abettor of
Wahlert’s actions, the evidence of Garrison’s guilt was overwhelming
without regard to Wahlert’s statements,” their decision states.
Deputy District Attorney Sara
Danville told the jury Garrison manipulated Wahlert into shooting
Willison because she knew Wahlert was a violent man. “She did that
knowing what he would do,” she said.
According to a probation
officer’s report, Garrison began using alcohol and methamphetamine at
12, injected heroin three times a week and smoked marijuana daily.
Nicknamed “Bam Bam,” Wahlert began
using alcohol at 14 and methamphetamine at 17, and was a Hell’s Angel,
the report states.
After they were
convicted, Wahlert spoke to the judge, but Garrison did not.
“I don’t deserve
to be a free man,” Wahlert said before he and Garrison were sentenced
to life in prison without parole. “I don’t want to be on the streets.”
Garrison, Judge Thierbach suggested that a movie be made about her to
teach children about what meth can do to a person’s life.
Jealousy or robbery? Motive debated in
RIVERSIDE ---- Depending on whose story is to be
believed, Michael Willison of Temecula was killed nearly three years
ago either because an attempt to rob him went bad or one of the
accused killers was jealous.
"We'll probably never really know why it happened,"
Deputy District Attorney Sara Danville said Tuesday
That is because the only people who know the truth,
Danville said, are the 39-year-old victim and a man and woman charged
with Willison's murder.
Willison's body was found Jan. 23, 2001, by a
jogger in the area of Highway 74 and Briggs Road in the Homeland area,
partially hidden under a pickup bedliner. He had been shot twice in
the head and stabbed five times, including once in the neck.
Joshua Blaine Wahlert, 26, and Tracey Leean
Garrison, 22, both from the Hemet area, are on trial on first-degree
murder charges in connection with Willison's slaying. If convicted,
both could be sentenced to prison for life without the possibility of
Prosecutors allege that Wahlert was the one who
fired the shots and stabbed Willison four times, with Garrison later
stabbing Willison in the neck when they found him still alive.
Danville says Garrison was in a relationship with
both men and that she is the one who orchestrated the Jan. 15, 2001,
robbery of the victim.
Garrison's attorney, David Gunn, contends that his
client was deathly afraid of Garrison and only stabbed Willison
because of that fear.
Frank Peasley, Wahlert's attorney, is hoping a jury
will agree with his belief that the murder was done in a jealous rage.
Danville doesn't disagree that there may have been
a "love triangle" involving the three. But, she says she is convinced
that the motive for Willison's murder was greed.
"(Garrison) was seeing both of these guys at the
same time," Danville said after Tuesday's testimony concluded. "It was
her idea to do the robbery. They thought (Willison) had more than he
did because they knew he was a commercial painter and had this nice
According to testimony presented when the trial
started last week, Danville said that the whole thing started at a
home near Leon Road and Highway 74, where the defendants bound
Willison's hands with duct tape, forced a bandanna in Willison's mouth
and covered his mouth with more duct tape.
Willison was then forced at gunpoint to a remote
location near some rocks off Highway 74 and killed, the prosecutor
On Tuesday, friends of both defendants were called
by the prosecution to tell jurors what they had been told happened.
Vernon Wood originally failed to appear on a
subpoena to testify in the case and was arrested. He testified Tuesday
clad in an orange jail jumpsuit and handcuffed and shackled.
Wood told jurors that he had know Garrison for
about five years before the slaying, but only knew Wahlert ---- who is
known by the nickname "Bam Bam" ---- for about a month.
He said the two came to the San Jacinto mobile home
where he lived at the time in a green pickup. Wood testified that
Wahlert said it belonged to someone he had just killed.
Wahlert also said that they had gone to rob
Willison "and stuff just got out of hand." Wahlert asked him if he
knew where he could find a 50-gallon drum and wanted him to help "bury
the dude," Wood said.
In early February 2001, Garrison "spilled her guts"
and told him that the killing was her idea, Wood testified. Wood said
she told him that she felt bad because a story she had told Wahlert
that Willison had sexually assaulted her wasn't true.
As Wood told jurors that, Wahlert ---- who is in a
wheelchair after back surgery ---- looked down and shook his head.
During questioning from the two defense attorneys,
Wood said he was high on methamphetamine when the two showed up and he
first learned about the killing. He also said Garrison looked scared
that day and never told him about what happened.
Gunn, Garrison's attorney, also questioned why
Wahlert, who barely knew him, would admit to a murder and seek his
Tiffany Walls, who called Garrison "my best
friend," also testified Tuesday. She said that Garrison told her that
"Josh shot some dude" and that "he made her cut his throat."
Walls testified that she determined on her own, not
by anything her friend told her, that "Bam Bam was jealous because
(Willison) was taking better care of her that he was."
While Garrison's attorney was questioning her,
Walls said that she once saw Wahlert become angry at Garrison and
elbow her in the face.
When Peasley, Wahlert's attorney, questioned her
about testifying because she didn't want Garrison, her friend, to get
in trouble or be convicted, Walls responded that she feels people
should be responsible when they have done something wrong.
"But I don't feel (Garrison) is guilty of what
she's being charged for," Walls said. "Somehow, (Wahlert) made her do
There are two juries ---- one selected for each
defendant. Jurors will often be in the courtroom at the same time ----
as they were Tuesday, but will sometimes only hear testimony and view
evidence regarding the defendant they are assigned to. The case is
scheduled to resume Thursday, but testimony regarding only Wahlert
will be heard, Danville said.
IN THE COURT OF APPEAL OF THE STATE
FOURTH APPELLATE DISTRICT
THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and
Respondent, v. JOSHUA B. WAHLERT et al., Defendants and
APPEAL from the Superior Court of
Christian F. Thierbach, Judge.
Defendants Joshua Blaine Wahlert and Tracy Leean
Garrison were charged in count 1 of a third amended information with
the murder of Michael Willison. (Pen. Code, § 187, subd. (a).) The
murder allegedly occurred while the defendants were engaged in the
commission or attempted commission of a robbery (§ 211) and kidnapping
(§ 207). (§ 190.2, subd. (a)(17)(A) & (B).)
The accusatory pleading further alleged that, in
connection with the murder, Wahlert personally and intentionally
discharged a firearm causing great bodily injury or death
(§§ 12022.53, subd. (d) & 1192.7, subd. (c)(8)), and that Wahlert and
Garrison personally used a deadly and dangerous weapon, a knife
(§§ 12022, subd. (b)(1) & 1192.7, subd. (c)(23)). It was further
alleged that Garrison participated in the crime knowing that a
principal was armed with a gun. (§ 12022, subd. (a)(1).)
The third amended information further
charged Wahlert with being a felon in possession of a firearm (count
2; § 12021, subd. (a)(1)), being a felon in possession of ammunition
(count 3; § 12316, subd. (b)(1)), and exhibiting a firearm in a rude,
angry, and threatening manner or using a firearm in a fight (count 4;
§ 417, subd. (a)(2)).
defendants were tried jointly before separate juries. Garrison’s jury
convicted her of murder (count 1) and found true the allegations that
she committed the murder while engaged in the commission of robbery
and kidnapping and of knowing that a principal was armed with a gun.
Her jury found not true the enhancement allegation that she personally
used a deadly and dangerous weapon. She was sentenced to life without
possibility of parole, plus a determinate term of one year for the
Wahlert jury found him guilty on all counts and found all enhancement
allegations true. He was sentenced to life without possibility of
parole on count 1, plus a consecutive sentence of 25 years to life for
the gun enhancement and an additional one year on the arming
enhancement. He was further sentenced to three years on count 2,
eight months on count 3, and one year on count 4, such terms to run
consecutively. Both defendants were ordered to pay restitution to
victims and a restitution fine. (§ 1202.4, subds. (a) & (b).)
Summary of Facts
in a recreational vehicle on property belonging to the father of his
friend, Jon Ramirez. Ramirez and his father lived in a house on the
property. In the months preceding the murder of Willison, Garrison
stayed intermittently with Wahlert in the recreational vehicle. The
two frequently argued and Garrison would leave for several days at a
time to be with Willison. According to Ramirez, Garrison was confused
about who she wanted to be with.
Two or three
weeks before Willison was killed, Ramirez, Garrison, and Willison went
to the home of “Flako” to buy drugs. While Willison was inside
Flako’s house, Garrison talked to Ramirez about a plan to rob
Willison. She said she wanted to give Willison’s truck and other
property to Wahlert and then the two would go to Las Vegas to get
married. She spoke to Ramirez about this plan on two other
occasions. Wahlert separately told Ramirez of his desire to “take
everything that [Willison] had.” Another time, Wahlert, who was
jealous of Willison’s relationship with Garrison, said he wanted to
“beat [Willison] up.” Wahlert and Garrison sometimes referred to each
other as “Bonnie and Clyde.”
January 14, 2001, Willison called Ramirez to get some help getting a
couch from storage into his truck. Willison arrived at Ramirez’s home
about 10:30 p.m. that
night. The two smoked methamphetamine. As Ramirez
was putting his shoes on to leave with Willison, Wahlert and Garrison
entered Ramirez’s home. Garrison brought in a roll of duct tape and
set it on the television set. Wahlert pulled out a gun and pointed it
When Willison pleaded to spare his life and to not “leave [his] two
boys fatherless,” Wahlert told him to shut up and stuck a bandana in
Willison’s mouth. Garrison then taped Willison’s mouth and hands with
the duct tape. She went through Willison’s pockets, taking keys, a
wallet, a necklace, and a ring, and threw them on a couch. Ramirez
was, as he said, “[f]reaking out” and telling them, “No, not here.”
Ramirez testified that he did not do anything to encourage them; but
he did not do anything to stop them “[b]ecause [Wahlert] had a gun.”
According to Ramirez, Wahlert never turned the gun toward Garrison,
threatened her, forced her, or directed her to do anything. It
appeared to Ramirez that Wahlert and Garrison were “working together.”
Willison’s keys. With Wahlert pointing the gun at Willison, the three
went to Willison’s truck. They drove to a secluded rural area where
Willison was severely beaten, repeatedly stabbed, and shot twice in
the head. He died as a result.
Wahlert and Garrison returned to Ramirez’s house in Willison’s truck
about 20 minutes after they had left with Willison. Ramirez told them
“to get their stuff and to leave.” Wahlert told Ramirez he was “sorry
for letting that happen,” gave Willison’s ring and necklace to Ramirez
as “compensation to help you out for what went on,” and told him,
“[d]on’t say a word.” Wahlert took Willison’s other property,
including a $20 bill
and credit cards. Wahlert told Garrison to pack their belongings,
which she did. The two then left in Willison’s truck.
morning, they tried to buy gas for the truck with one of Willison’s
credit cards, but the card was not approved. When the gas station
attendant went to call the police, Wahlert and Garrison left.
Garrison drove the truck to the home of Ed and Donna Geiger, where
Vernon Wood was staying. Wahlert told Wood that he had taken the
truck “from a dude that he killed.” He told Wood that he intended “to
rob the guy . . . and stuff got out of hand and he shot him, stabbed
him[,] and split.” Wahlert showed Wood credit cards with the name
“Michael” on them. Wahlert asked Wood to help him bury the victim,
but Wood refused. He also asked Wood where he could get a 50-gallon
drum. Wahlert left a bag of clothes at the house, which Ed Geiger
A couple of
days after the murder, Wahlert called Ramirez to say that he and
Garrison were going to Las Vegas to get married and asked Ramirez to
be the best man. Later, Wahlert told Ramirez that he had shot
Willison in the head and put a tarp over him. He also told Ramirez
where the body was located and asked Ramirez to “take care of the
January 20, 2001, Wahlert and Garrison were in Willison’s truck when
Wahlert displayed a gun to two women in another car. One of the women
called her husband, who called 911. Shortly afterward, Wahlert was
arrested for brandishing a
firearm. The police
found a .30-caliber gun in the truck and a live round in Wahlert’s
pocket. While being booked on this charge, Wahlert commented: “I’m
looking at 60 years, they just haven’t found out the half of it yet.”
In a subsequent
search of the truck, police found, among other items, a pair of blue
jeans stained with Willison’s blood, a man’s empty wallet, a black
bag, and a red bag. In the black bag were checks on Willison’s
personal bank account, a payroll check made out to Willison, and
business cards for Willison’s painting business. The red bag
contained credit cards in Willison’s name and a bandana.
A couple of
days after Wahlert’s arrest, Garrison went to Ramirez’s house and told
him that they had to “go back out there and take care of the body.”
January 23, 2001, nine days after the murder, Willison’s body was
found by a jogger. The body was covered with a tarp or mat. Police
found a piece of duct tape 20 to 30 feet away from the body.
Impressions of tire tracks at the scene matched those of the tires on
After identifying the victim as Willison, police learned that
Willison’s car had been impounded in connection with the arrest of
Wahlert for brandishing a firearm. The police then examined the
property that was taken from
Wahlert when he was
arrested and found Willison’s social security card, his contractor’s
state license card, and credit cards with Willison’s name on them.
was in custody on the charge of brandishing the firearm, Kevin Duffy,
an investigator for the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department,
interviewed him about Willison after he was advised of, and waived,
his rights under Miranda v. Arizona (1966) 384 U.S. 436 [86
S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed. 694]. Audiotaped recordings of these interviews
were played in the presence of his jury only.
admitted shooting Willison twice, but stated that he did so after
Willison came at him waving a shotgun in his arms. After shooting
Willison, Willison grabbed Wahlert; Wahlert then stabbed Willison.
Initially, he stated that Garrison was not there and did not
participate in the killing. Later, he said that Garrison was there,
but that she did not know or do anything. During one of the
interviews, Wahlert wrote a note to Willison’s children at the request
of the investigator, in which Wahlert apologized “for the pain that
[he has] caused . . . .”
While Wahlert was being interviewed in the district attorney’s office,
Garrison was being questioned by an investigator at a sheriff’s
station in Hemet. According to
Wahlert, Willison, and Ramirez were in Ramirez’s house when Wahlert
pulled a gun on Willison and had Willison empty his pockets. Wahlert
then told Willison they were “gonna go for a ride.” Garrison said
that she insisted on going with them.
After driving to a secluded location, Wahlert and Willison walked to a
rocky area and argued. As Garrison started to get out of the truck,
she heard two shots; then Wahlert returned and told her to get into
the truck. Sometime later, they returned to the scene to find that
Willison had moved about six feet and was alive. Wahlert then took a
knife and walked toward Willison; when he returned, he told Garrison
that he had cut Willison’s throat and broke his neck. Video and audio
recordings of this interview were played only to the Garrison jury.
During the day that both Wahlert and Garrison were being separately
interviewed, Duffy, who was interviewing Wahlert, and the investigator
interviewing Garrison, remained in “constant phone contact” with each
other and arranged for Wahlert to telephone Garrison.
telephone call was described by Duffy at trial as a “pretext call.”
Duffy informed Wahlert that they “found [Garrison]” and that Wahlert
“need[s] to talk to her and tell her to cooperate and tell the
truth.” Duffy told Wahlert that Garrison was in Hemet. Wahlert asked
if she was “at the station,” to which Duffy responded, “No,
. . . some other
house.” Duffy then dialed a number on a cell phone and handed the
phone to Wahlert. Wahlert was then connected with Garrison in the
Hemet sheriff’s station as Duffy left the room. In Hemet, an
investigator was in the room with Garrison listening to the phone call
and “feeding her some questions at times.” The phone call was recorded
and the recording played to each jury separately.
During the call, Wahlert and Garrison each made statements directly or
indirectly implicating themselves and each other. When Wahlert told
Garrison that he had told Duffy that Willison “pulled a shotgun on”
him, Garrison told him that she would “tell [them] the truth before I
told [them] that.”
Wahlert admitted that he had lied “to keep [Garrison] safe.” Wahlert
told Garrison that she was “part of this” and, when Garrison said that
she “told them everything that happened from the time we left
[Ramirez’s],” Wahlert asked, “Did you tell them you told me to do
it?” When Garrison denied that she told Wahlert “to do it,” Wahlert
responded, “Oh, ho! That’s cold. All right.” Later in the
conversation, Wahlert told Garrison that he would “take the fall for
this.” Still later in
the conversation, there was an exchange that
suggested that Wahlert killed Willison because Garrison said she was
afraid of Willison.
When Garrison denied that she was afraid of Willison, Wahlert
declared, “My life’s over because I cared about you.” Garrison
responded by telling Wahlert, “Well then you shouldn’t have done it”
and that he “should’ve thought about that before.” Wahlert warned
Garrison that the police wanted to “make [her] an accessory,” to which
Garrison explained, “[t]he only thing I did, is I was there.” The
following exchange then took place:
“WAHLERT: And you didn’t tell me to
“WAHLERT: Oh, ho-oh! You don’t love me, do you?
“GARRISON: You know what does that have to with thing [sic].
I do love you. But I never told you, I never told you to do anything.
. . . I never told you to kill him. I never told you to shoot him.
OOOOhhhh! Tracey!!!! Tracey!!!!”
Police also recorded one conversation between Wahlert and his mother
and another conversation with Wahlert, his mother, and an
investigator, both of which were played to his jury only. During
these conversations, Wahlert stated he “did it because I was scared of
[Willison]. And I did it because . . . [Garrison] said she was scared
[Willison].” He told his mother that Garrison told him to kill
Willison. When the investigator was present, Wahlert stated that
Garrison had “used me to get this dude done” and that Garrison “set me
up to do this.” Following these interviews and conversations, Wahlert
told the investigator that Garrison “duct taped [Willison].”
After Willison’s death, Garrison made admissions to several others
about her involvement in the killing. The night after the killing,
she told Tiffany Walls that Wahlert shot a man and that she slit the
victim’s throat. Within a couple of days of the murder, she told
Kellie White that she had repeatedly stabbed Willison and killed him.
Within two weeks after the murder, Garrison told Victoria Lauderdale
that a man was supposed to give her money and did not; she and Wahlert
went to the man’s house where she had taped the man’s hands and legs
while Wahlert held him; they robbed him of drugs and money; and then
they took him to a field where Wahlert shot him twice.
further told Lauderdale that when she and Wahlert returned to the
scene of the shooting and found the victim alive, Wahlert cut the
man’s throat. Garrison did not tell Lauderdale that she had been
forced to participate in the murder.
About two weeks after
the murder, Garrison told Vernon Wood that she
planned to rob Willison; that she bound him with duct tape and robbed
him of his truck and $20; and that Wahlert then shot and stabbed him.
On two occasions after Wahlert was arrested, when Ramirez and Garrison
were among friends, Garrison “joke[d] around about how much she liked
Garrison was interviewed by police again in May 2001 and December
2001. In these interviews, Garrison denied having any relationship
with Wahlert. She said that Wahlert told her to duct tape Willison,
but she refused. Rather than insisting upon going with Wahlert and
Willison in the truck, as she previously stated, she went along only
after Wahlert pointed the gun at her and said “[y]ou’re going too.”
Garrison explained the apparent inconsistency by stating: “[Wahlert]
said, ‘You’re going too. Let’s go,’ and then I don’t know if he
thought about it or what. But he wasn’t gonna - he wasn’t gonna let
me go with him, and then that’s when I insisted on going.” She denied
taking things from Willison’s pockets and denied stabbing Willison.
She did not try to stop Wahlert, Garrison explained, because she was
afraid that he would shoot her too. At the conclusion of this last
interview she was taken into custody. Audio and video recordings of
these interviews were played to Garrison’s jury only. Neither Wahlert
nor Garrison testified at trial.
The judgment against
Garrison is affirmed.