Ranger testifies about recovery of guns used to kill Zavalla couple

Ranger testifies about recovery of guns used to kill Zavalla couple
Source: KTRE Staff
Source: KTRE Staff
Nathan and Krystal Maddox (Source: Facebook)
Nathan and Krystal Maddox (Source: Facebook)

By John Foxjohn

BRYAN, TEXAS (KTRE) - During the third day of the capital murder trial for a Tyler County woman who is accused in the shooting deaths of her ex-husband and his new wife, a Texas Ranger spoke of how Kristen Westfall's father led authorities to the murder weapons.

The trial is being held in Bryan instead of Tyler County, where the crime was committed. Judge Delinda Gibbs-Walker granted state prosecutor Lisa Tanner's request to have the Tyler County woman's trial moved to a neutral site in order to have a fair jury.

Kristen Westfall is one of three family members charged with capital murder in the killing of her ex-husband Nathan Maddox and his new wife Krystal in January of 2014 outside of a Tyler County church after a mediated visitation with Nathan and Kristen's young daughter.

Kristen Westfall's mother, Letha, and brother, Cameron, accepted plea deals in May. Westfall's father Paul has not gone to trial yet.

Cameron pleaded guilty to two counts of third-degree tampering with evidence. The judge deferred finding of guilt contingent upon him testifying against his family. He faces up to 10 years in prison for each charge. Letha was given a life sentence with parole option after 30 years. Letha will also have to testify if asked. The families of Nathan and Krystal have requested the punishment be life in prison if found guilty and not the death penalty.

On Friday morning, Texas Ranger Ronald Duff testified about how law enforcement officers recovered the two murder weapons on March 13, 2014. Paul Westfall led them to a pond in the woods across from the Westfall home.

A Texas Department of Public Safety dive team went into the pond, and they found a single-shot 20-gauge shotgun. On their second dive into the pond, they found the .3030-caliber rifle, Duff said.

Chief Deputy Steven Sturrock with the Tyler County Sheriff's Office testified about Cameron Westfall coming to them and telling them where additional evidence had been thrown. It was located in a swampy area called the River Slough.

Sturrock said it took them over a year to recover the evidence. They ended up having to pump the water out of the slough to get at the evidence, he said.

Later Friday, a DPS firearms examiner told the jury that he matched a .3030-caliber shell casing found at the murder scene to the .3030-caliber rifle that Paul Westfall led investigators to find.

Two witnesses testified that the Westfalls tried on numerous occasions to hire them to kill Nathan Maddox. The Westfalls allegedly asked the two witnesses to either kill Nathan Maddox or find someone to do it.

One witness told the jury that he told them he would find someone to stall them. He never intended to do it. The Westfalls kept telling the witnesses if they couldn't do it, they would find someone else, or they would do it themselves.

Another witness testified that he or she saw a text message from Kristen Westfall asking them to kill Nathan Maddox.

At one point during Thursday's testimony, Tanner showed the jury gruesome crime scene photos of the couple's bodies at the church. Kristen Westfall sat stone faced as the pictures of Krystal Maddox were shown. However, she dropped her head and wiped her eyes when the prosecutor showed crime scene pictures of Nathan Maddox.

In her opening statements Wednesday, Samantha Oglesby, a prosecutor for the Texas Attorney General's Office, told the jury that they would hear evidence that Kristen and her father Paul shot Nathan and Krystal outside the Mount Carmel Baptist Church as Nathan was going to visit his four-year old daughter.

"We know custody issues can be messy but it did not have to come to this," Oglesby said.

On Wednesday, Oglesby said that the Westfalls tried to keep Nathan's daughter isolated and discouraged her from having any kind of relationship with her father.

"You will learn the Westfalls discouraged Nathan's from having a relationship with him," Oglesby said Wednesday. "You will learn Nathan was trying to be a good father, but Kristen was not trying to be a good mother. The Westfalls saw the writing on the wall. Nathan was going to be able to get visitation with his child, and he was going to get the child out of isolation. They knew they were going to get custody of this child, and Kristen had to stop it."

Oglesby said Kristen plotted for months and that she told her family that she had friends that could kill Nathan. Oglesby claimed the Westfall family tried to pay Kristen's friends and give them money. She stated in October 2013, Nathan and Paul got in an argument and a physical altercation.

"It was in that time that words turned into action," Oglesby said.

Oglesby claimed that Kristen started to stalk Nathan and Krystal in an attempt to find a place to kill them. She said in December of 2013, a custody hearing was made where the judge ordered a visitation plan that both sides agreed on.

"What you will learn is the Westfalls came up with that place," Oglesby said. "They recommended their family church."

Oglesby said the day of the murder Cameron was asked to go to the store and he saw Kristen dressed as a boy and he knew the murder would happen that day.

Oglesby said Paul was armed with a .3030-caliber rifle and Kristen with a shotgun, and they walked through the woods to the church.

"You are going to hear that Paul Westfall shot Krystal in the head as she walked out," Oglesby said. "You are going to learn that Nathan had to watch his wife die, and then Kristen shot Nathan in the hip by Kristen, and then Paul walked up and shot him in the head."

Oglesby said Kristen thought she planned the perfect murder.

"What she didn't expect was for her family not to keep her secret," Oglesby. "What is better than fingerprints and DNA is her confession to her family. What is better than DNA or fingerprints is her understanding of where Nathan and Krystal would be."

In their opening statement the defense asked the jury to look at the evidence closely and really listen to the witnesses and think about what they had to gain. The defense argued that a different picture will be painted when they hear the evidence.

John Foxjohn is in Bryan and covering the Kristen Westfall trial as part of a book project. He has agreed to provide updates to KTRE.

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