Defense: Killing was not planned

Steven Frederick Walshaw’s defense attorneys and the prosecutor agree that he strangled his live-in girlfriend in their Manassas condominium Jan. 23.

They disagree over whether the killing was premeditated.

Walshaw’s defense attorney, Michael Devine, argued at Walshaw’s trial Monday that Walshaw should be convicted of manslaughter, not murder.

“I ask you to hold Steve responsible for Karen’s death, to find that he acted in the truest heat of passion, and find him guilty of manslaughter,” Devine said.

Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney D. Scott Bailey characterized Karen Paulette Tegeler’s death as “a bare-handed killing.”

“As she lay sleeping in the crook of his arm, he decided to kill her. Simple, straightforward,” Bailey said.

An hour-long tape of Walshaw’s confession to Manassas City Police Detective Louis D. DeRamus III was played for jurors Monday. During the interview, Walshaw, 40, of 9324 Woodlea Court, described finding an early Valentine’s Day card from his girlfriend.

“He went on to describe a ‘Dear John’ letter,” said responding Officer Marc Hittle of the Manassas Police Department.

Inside the valentine were several slips of blue paper, on which Tegeler, 33, told her boyfriend of three years that she would miss his smile but that he needed to move out.

Walshaw gave Hittle a key to their condominium and told him where to find Tegeler’s body, left on the bedroom floor wrapped in a blanket. He admitted that the relationship had been troubled for about six months. The difficulties seemed to stem from Walshaw’s recurrent depression. A self-employed roofer, Walshaw had not been working for two or three months before the killing. He had also been sleeping poorly, drinking heavily and envisioning Tegeler with other men. He said he had been thinking of killing her and himself for a month prior to her death.

On the tape, Walshaw described finding the valentine after Tegeler had returned from working at Food Lion about 2 p.m. They slept together and he discovered the card after she got up and went to another room. About 4 p.m., he found her napping in the bedroom. He lay down next to her and slid an arm under her pillow. It was when he noticed their reflections in a mirror at the end of the bed that he “couldn’t believe they wouldn’t be together.” He began to strangle her.

Assistant Chief Medical Examiner Carolyn Revercome told jurors that Tegeler probably died within two to four minutes.

Throughout the playing of the tape, Walshaw sat passively between his lawyers, his face emotionless.

Walshaw’s friend Cathy White of 9700 block of Zimbro Avenue, Manassas, told jurors that Walshaw had knocked on her door about 10 p.m. on Jan. 23. He was agitated, and told her he “needed to talk, he’d done something bad,” she said. He also told her they needed to call the police. About an hour later she did so, and Hittle arrived and arrested Walshaw.

Bailey called five witnesses, including Hittle, Revercome and White before resting about 3 p.m. Monday afternoon.

The defense’s only witness, a psychologist who used to treat Walshaw, will testify today. Jury deliberations are expected to begin today after closing arguments from both sides.

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