Calgary

Jurors in harassment trial urged to consider 'rock solid' evidence of accused: lawyer

Jurors who will soon decide the fate of three people on trial for harassment and corruption should believe the "rock solid" evidence of the only person to testify in his own defence — retired Calgary police drug expert Steve Walton — and acquit the trio, according to all of the defence lawyers who delivered closing arguments Monday.

Steve and Heather Walton, and Ken Carter face harassment and corruption-related charges

Calgary multimillionaire Ken Carter was accused of hiring a private investigation-type firm to stalk and intimidate his ex-girlfriend, Akele Taylor, for two years in order to gain custody of their daughter. A jury has found Carter and two others guilty on several charges in the case. (Instagram/Supplied)

Jurors who will soon decide the fate of three people on trial for harassment and corruption should believe the "rock solid" evidence of the only person to testify in his own defence — retired Calgary police drug expert Steve Walton — and acquit the trio, according to all of the defence lawyers who delivered closing arguments Monday. 

"This is not a Jekyll and Hyde scenario," said Walton's counsel Alain Hepner, who described Walton as a dedicated former police officer who has authored books and articles. 

"To suddenly descend into a lifestyle of crime defies logic … a leopard does not change its spots."

Not surprisingly, prosecutors Katherine Love and Ryan Persad disagreed with the defence lawyers and urged jurors to find the three guilty.

On Monday, closing arguments were made by lawyers for all three accused as well as the prosecution. Jurors will receive final instructions on how to apply the law to their deliberations before they are sequestered on Tuesday. 

Retired CPS officer Steve Walton and his wife Heather, alongside Ken Carter, are charged with criminal harassment.

The Waltons also face bribery charges, accused of paying current officers to search internal CPS databases for information.

There are some facts both Crown and defence agree on: Ken Carter, a wealthy businessman, hired the Waltons in 2012 when he was in the midst of a bitter breakup and messy child custody battle with his ex girlfriend Akele Taylor. 

Steve Walton, right, a retired Calgary Police Service officer, and his wife, Heather, left, who used to be a civilian member of the service, were also on trial. (Meghan Grant/CBC)

Both sides also agree that over the next 12 months, Carter paid the Waltons about $800,000 to follow Taylor and provide information about her.

But defence lawyers say it was legal and there is no evidence Taylor felt harassed, while prosecutors say the three accused acted on a plan which was nefarious and meets the test for criminal behaviour. 

Beginning in August 2012, the Waltons, who describe their business as a risk management protection company, followed Taylor around the city and to Edmonton using a GPS unit they had installed on her car. 

They paid their employees — who included current members of the Calgary Police Service — to visit Taylor's friends, family and ex boyfriends in an effort to get negative information about her, according to witnesses' testimony over the past several weeks. 

'Carter's fear was real'

Defence lawyers have painted Taylor as an unfit mother, a drug addict and argued the Waltons provided surveillance on Taylor to monitor her lifestyle and provided security for Carter and his daughter.

"Mr. Carter's fear was real, it was reasonable, and it was his motive to protect," Carter's lawyer Gavin Wolch told jurors.

But prosecutor Katherine Love pointed to dozens of potentially damning messages between the three accused and employees of the Waltons outlining what appears to be a plan to make Taylor's life so difficult she would give up custody of her daughter to Carter.

"She's getting near the end of her rope," said Carter to Steve Walton in one message. "We need to push her over the edge."

In another message, Heather Walton tells Carter: "I love f--king with that little bitch."

Notably, Taylor did not testify which both Hepner and Wolch pointed out to jurors.

Heather Walton's lawyer Kelsey Sitar told jurors they should acquit her client and the two others. 

"There is absolutely no basis to conclude that a campaign of harassment was undertaken against Ms. Taylor, let alone that Ms. Walton was part of any such campaign."

About the Author

Meghan Grant

CBC Calgary reporter

Meghan Grant is the courts and crime reporter for CBC Calgary.

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