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Ex-soldier sentenced to 35 years in wife’s murder

A gavel cracks down. (Airman 1st Class Aspen Reid/U.S. Air Force)

A federal judge Monday sentenced ex-soldier Michael Walker, who schemed to have his 38-year-old wife killed in November 2014, to 35 years in prison, and a woman, who wielded the knife, to 30 years.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Brady said Walker, then 34, organized, led and managed the murder and manipulated Ailsa Jackson, then 24, to commit the crime. All he was thinking of was getting life insurance proceeds from his wife’s death, continuing to troll social media for sex partners, buying a motorcycle and taking scuba lessons.

Two weeks after meeting Jackson, he asked her to kill his wife, Catherine, “a woman full of love and compassion,” Brady said.

On the night of the murder, Catherine Walker said she forgave her attacker, Brady said. “She forgave her as she was being stabbed to death. That’s what kind of person she was,” Brady said.

Jackson and Michael Walker entered separate plea deals with the government to avoid life sentences for first-degree murder in the stabbing death, which occurred inside the couple’s Aliamanu Military Reservation home.

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Jackson and Walker met at the AMR recreation center and had a sexual relationship, prosecutors said. Walker directed her to delete the texts and photos that revealed their relationship.

As part of his scheme, Walker had Jackson murder his wife while he was working the overnight shift as a medic at Tripler.

She used a key hidden outside, grabbed a kitchen knife, approached her as she slept and stabbed her, then waited a half-hour to make sure she was dead.

U.S. District Judge Susan Mollway sentenced Walker to a longer sentence than the government recommendation of 30 to 33 years, an average sentence in murders in state court, saying this was not the typical murder; it was unthinkable.

Mollway said she accepted Jackson’s plea agreement and ruled on the lower end because of the family’s recommendation.

Catherine Walker’s father, Douglas Plotz, told the court, “We wholeheartedly forgive her, just as our daughter said, ‘I forgive you.’”

He added, “She will have to go to hell. The Lord will take care of her. We would like her to have the minimum sentence. We seek no revenge on her.”

Michael Walker pleaded guilty a week before his September trial to second-degree murder for aiding and abetting the fatal stabbing, whereas Jackson pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in 2015.

Walker was earlier sentenced in 2016 to 27 months in prison for possession of child pornography and soliciting money for sex with men, and in 2017 for sexually abusing, assaulting and threatening a young boy.

Mollway ordered his 35-year sentence to be served at the same time as his previous sentences.

Walker faced Catherine Walker’s family and apologized.

Brady said the government agreed to Jackson’s plea deal to find the truth of what happened because there were no other witnesses who could testify and no forensic evidence.

Jackson’s cooperation helped crack the code of their text messages that led to Michael Walker’s conviction, Brady said.

Walker admitted he met men and women for sex and was tired of sneaking around, Brady said. He wanted a different lifestyle, to be financed by his wife’s life insurance policy.

Daniel Martell, a psychology expert, testified he examined Jackson in 2016 and found she had schizophrenia with a depression component. But on Dec. 18 he reevaluated her and found she was in remission and at very low risk of future violence.

Jackson’s lawyer, Shanlyn Park, said Jackson has been in the Federal Detention Center for 4-1/2 years and that she has been under treatment for her disorder. Jackson had been under treatment since age 21, but stopped her treatment and medication only when her Tricare medical coverage lapsed.

“Walker knew her mental health situation,” Park said. Jackson was in “a very fragile and manipulatable” state.

When Jackson was asked what she would have done had Walker not left the key to enter the Walkers’ house, Jackson said she would have gone home, Park said.

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© 2020 The Honolulu Star-Advertiser