This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2007, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Posted: 12:05 PM- TOOELE - A former Marine who was psychologically traumatized by the Iraq war was sentenced to prison Tuesday for up to 15 years for drowning his girlfriend in the bathtub of their Tooele home last year.
Walter Smith, 27, told 3rd District Judge Mark Kouris Tuesday that he did not plan to kill 22-year-old Nicole Speirs on March 24, 2006.
Smith apologized to the victim's family but gave no explanation for why he killed the mother of the couple's 10-month-old twins.
Charged with first-degree felony murder, Smith was allowed to plead to a lesser count of manslaughter on the theory he was suffering extreme emotional disturbance at the time of the slaying.
Smith, who saw fellow soldiers die in Iraq, was discharged from the military because of post-traumatic stress disorder, according to defense attorney Matthew Jube.
A medical examiner's report was initially inconclusive as to whether Spiers' death was an accident or a homicide. But eight months after her death, Smith confessed to an uncle.
Jube told the court, "We would not be here if Walter didn't confess in this case."
Deputy Tooele County Attorney Gary Searle countered, "If not for [Smith] taking Nicole's life, we wouldn't be here."
Spiers' family members asked the judge to impose the maximum sentence of one to 15 years and said they would appear at Smith's parole hearing to ask for the full sentence.