This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
A former Marine Corps reservist who said he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder when he drowned his girlfriend in a bathtub will serve every day of his manslaughter conviction.
Walter Rollo Smith will not be freed until December 2021, when his one-to-15-year prison term expires, the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole announced this week.
The 29-year-old Smith was apologetic last week during his first parole hearing since being sentenced for the March 24, 2006, death of Nicole Speirs.
"What I did was horrible and there's no way I can change it," Smith told a board member. "If me doing all 15 years helps them at all, OK. I didn't plan on killing Nicole, but I did and there's no way to make up for it."
Speirs' family asked the board to keep Smith in prison for the remainder of his sentence.
"We're just relieved," Pauline Speirs, whose daughter was 22 when she was killed, said. "
Smith, who fought in Afghanistan and Iraq, was diagnosed by the military with post-traumatic stress disorder. His unit engaged in firefights that involved civilians and children and saw "more trauma than many soldiers," his defense attorney said in 2007, when Smith charged with murder pleaded guilty to the reduced count of manslaughter.
Smith said he had experienced flashbacks and violent thoughts since returning from duty, but had never had such impulses toward Speirs before the slaying.
Smith originally told police he came home from a family gathering in Idaho to find his girlfriend dead in the bathtub.
But eight months later, after checking into a Veteran's Affairs hospital with suicidal tendencies, Smith confessed to killing the woman.