Tyler County capital murder suspect's mother testifies against her

Tyler County capital murder suspect's mother testifies against her
Source: KTRE Staff
Source: KTRE Staff
Letha Westfall (Source: Tyler County Jail)
Letha Westfall (Source: Tyler County Jail)
Nathan and Krystal Maddox (Source: Facebook)
Nathan and Krystal Maddox (Source: Facebook)

During the fifth day of testimony in the capital murder trial for a Tyler County woman accused in the shooting deaths of her ex-husband and his new wife, the suspect's mother testified against, and even though she tried to downplay her involvement, the state produced text messages that seem to indicate that she was in on the plot.

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 Westfall 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 Westfall was given a life sentence with parole option after 30 years.

The families of Nathan and Krystal Maddox have requested the punishment be life in prison if found guilty and not the death penalty.

During her second day of testimony, Letha Westfall said that Paul Westfall, her husband, had said, "The Masons would take care of Nathan." She also told the jury that she thought her lawyers gave up on her.

Letha Westfall also testified that she asked someone to murder Nathan in a round-about way because she knew that he was seeking custody of his daughter.

After the lunch break, Capt. Bud Sturrock, the chief investigator with the Tyler County Sheriff's Office talked about leading the investigation into Nathan and Krystal's murders. He told the jury that Paul and Cameron Westfall led them to two different pieces of evidence on different dates.

Sturrock told the jurors that they originally thought there was just one shooter. He said it wasn't until the autopsy on Jan. 20, 2014 that they learned from the medical examiner that Nathan also had a shotgun wound, adding that this evidence led them to believe that there were two shooters.

The state still hasn't rested its case.

The rest of the morning, the prosecutors went over text messages between Kristen Westfall and Letha Westfall. The texts showed the plot all the way up until the day of the murders. At 11:07 a.m. on Jan. 18, 2014, Letha Westfall sent Kristen Westfall a message that said, "Get in place."

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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