Source: Daily Herald (IL)
Pubdate: 14 Aug 1998
Author: Robert McCoppin
Section: Sec. 1, p. 1


There was little doubt who killed Vera Walker: her 16-year-old son.

That left one key question for a DuPage County jury Thursday: was he too
high on LSD to know what he was doing?

Or did he attack because he was afraid of going back behind bars?

After deliberating two hours, a jury convicted Bryan Walker, now 17, of
first-degree murder.

Jurors said they listened over and over to a tape of a call the victim made
to 911 just before the murder Jan. 15 of last year, listening for clues as
to Bryan Walker's state of mind.

On the tape, Vera Walker, a 39-year-old manager at a Wheaton hair salon,
asked for an ambulance to come to her town house at 369 Farnsworth Ave. in
Glen Ellyn. She said her son had taken three doses of "acid," a
hallucinogenic drug.

"He is breathing hard; he is crying; he said he doesn't know what's going
on," she told the emergency dispatcher.

When Vera Walker said her son had gotten violent and turned over a bar, the
dispatcher asked if he could get a hold of any weapons, such as knives.

"In the kitchen," Vera Walker said, "but I don't think that will, that will

Then Vera Walker gasped and said her son couldn't get up and had urinated
while lying in her bed. Prosecutors said that wasn't especially
significant, because he had a history of wetting his bed.

Warned to stay away by the dispatcher, Vera Walker said, "No. All I got to
do, all I need to do is hold him."

In the background, Bryan Walker can be heard swearing and saying, "Put the
phone down. Hang it up. ... What the (expletive) do you think I am?"

Vera Walker said she would hang up, but instead she began screaming as her
son began yelling. At that point, believes Assistant State's Attorney Dan
Guerin, she was being stabbed.

Paramedics found Vera Walker dead in the snow outside her front door with
six stab wounds in her back and neck and a knife sticking out of her left
shoulder blade.

Three and a half hours later, Brian Walker came out of the house and
surrendered to police.

During his trial, Walker testified he was hallucinating that night,
imagining dead bodies piled on him.

He said he remembered getting the knife, but not the stabbing. He said he
recalled his mother saying, "Brian, stop it, you're killing me."

After a couple of brushes with the law in November 1996, a judge told
Walker he would be detained again if he again got into trouble.

A psychologist testifying for the defense concluded Walker acted in a
psychotic state brought on by the drugs.

A trip on LSD is like a "wild card," the doctor testified, because even
experienced users don't know what will happen. In rare cases, people have
become permanently psychotic from LSD use.

"Bryan went nuts from LSD," Assistant Public Defender Joan Pantsios said.

But prosecutors, in talking to jurors after the verdict, said the jurors
were concerned the psychologist never asked Bryan Walker about what
happened during the crime itself.

Dr. Henry Lahmeyer, a psychiatrist testifying for prosecutors, testified
Bryan Walker was not psychotic but was an experienced user who had taken
LSD many times without becoming violent.

Bryan Walker conceded he had taken more than 300 "hits" of acid in his
life, one time as many as 12.

Prosecutors are not required to prove a motive for a crime but suggested
Bryan Walker was mad at his mom for calling 911 because he'd be arrested
for drug use.

As the law is written, a person who voluntarily takes drugs is responsible
for any criminal actions, unless the drugged condition suspends the power
of reason, rendering the user incapable of forming intent to commit the crime.

At sentencing Oct. 2, Bryan Walker faces 20 to 60 years in prison.

"We're very happy," prosecutor Guerin said of the verdict. "It shows you
can't just take LSD and claim you're not legally responsible for what you
do." SON: Murderer faces 60 years in prison

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Checked-by: Mike Gogulski