Sementelli Was Struck 66 Times

Williamsport Sun-Gazette (Penn.), Apr. 15

LOCK HAVEN—Shonda Walter bludgeoned James Sementelli with a 10-inch hatchet 66 times and denied his pleas for help before leaving him to die in March of 2003, according to the prosecutor.

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McGettigan said Walter was raised by a loving mother, Judy Walter, but she started getting into debt and hanging around “bad companions” before moving back into her mother’s house in late 2002 or early 2003.

He further alleged that Walter was trying to get into a gang in Williamsport. That affiliation could have been a reasoning behind the brutal murder, McGettigan said.

“She said, ‘I’ll solve my problems and debts . . . as well as getting in with the gang. I’ll do that by taking a human life,’” the prosecutor said.

McGettigan showed the jury the hatchet that Walter allegedly used to kill Sementelli, holding it twice during his opening statements.

He said Sementelli was “alive and healthy” and tried to defend himself from the 66 blows to his body, but succumbed to “brutal injuries, many broken bones, skull injuries . . . and blood all over the place.”

McGettigan said the evidence will show that after Walter first struck Sementelli with the hatchet, he asked her why she was doing that.

“Because I can,” the prosecutor quoted Walter.

Sementelli pleaded for Walter to call 9-1-1, “hoping for some mercy, but she struck him again and again,” McGettigan said. “She said, ‘Just die.’ and then she took a break, smoked a cigarette while Sementelli remained alive, and she left. We don’t know if he was still alive when she left.”

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Jury Selection Starts in Walter Murder Trial

Express (Lock Haven, Penn.), Apr. 2

LOCK HAVEN—After the first day of jury selection for the Shonda Walter capital murder trial, six potential jurors have been eliminated from consideration.

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Another question posed to the prospective jurors was whether they had negative feelings on the case because Walter, who is black, is accused of killing Sementelli, who was white. Only one prospective juror in each session said they had an issue with race.

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