BRYAN, TX (KTRE) - After deliberating for about eight hours, a Brazos County jury has found a Colmesneil woman guilty of capital murder in connection to the shooting deaths of her ex-husband and his wife.
Kristen Westfall will now begin serving a life-without-parole sentence.
Westfall was accused of killing her ex-husband, Nathan Maddox, and his new wife, Krystal Maddox, on January 18, 2014 outside of a Tyler County church following a supervised visit between Nathan and his daughter who Kristen had custody of.
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.
In her cross-examination answering, Westfall agreed with prosecutor Lisa Tanner that one of Paul and Letha Westfall's children were with Paul Westfall when he shot and killed Westfall's ex-husband and his new wife. Kristen agreed with all of Tanner's questioning about the crime but said she was in disagreement with the theory that she was with her father. Westfall claimed it was her brother Cameron that went with Paul to the church near their house on the day of the killings.
Tanner told Westfall that she said yesterday that her brother was shielded from the world by her parents and that he did not like to hunt or trap animals with their father. Tanner told Westfall that that did not sound like someone who would do this.
"No ma'am it does not," Westfall said. "But none of this does."
Tanner then painted Westfall as a smart person. She brought up that Westfall graduated third in her class and got an associate's degree in college. Tanner also brought up to Westfall that she has good knowledge of how to hunt.
Tanner then brought up all of Cameron's testimony and that when Westfall took the stand she said the same thing with the roles reversed.
Westfall said she never told anyone her story until she got in court. Westfall told Tanner that Cameron was lying and he said what he was told to do before they got arrested.
Westfall also told Tanner that Justin Reynolds, a witness that claimed the Westfalls tried to get him to kill the Maddox family, was also lying.
Westfall also said witness Cody Shaver lied.
"Cody would do or say anything to stay out of trouble," Westfall said.
Tanner pointed out that Westfall is aware that her mom and brother got deals, including Cameron being allowed to eat chicken strips one day if he testified, but her friends were not given deals.
"I believe they were scared they were going to be charged," Westfall said.
Tanner then switched to Westfall's testimony about Letha Westfall. Westfall agreed with Tanner that her view was that her mother was lying and "sacrificing" one child for her son. Westfall believed that her mom was trying to protect her son and not get him in trouble.
Tanner then brought up that Letha was the first person to implicate Cameron in the crime. Westfall then said on a letter they found that said, "Cameron, tell the truth" was code for "Cameron, don't tell the truth".
Westfall said she was closer to her father then her mother but he was sacrificing his innocent daughter for his son. Kristen called her mom a puppet master and everyone conspired together to let her be the one in trouble.
Tanner brought up duct tape that was recovered and claimed Westfall used the duct tape to conceal her body to make her look more like a boy when she and her father shot Nathan and Krystal. Tanner brought up that her brother told investigators two years before forensics came back that Westfall used the duct tape. Westfall denied that claim and said it was not possible.
Tanner next brought up text messages between Kristen and Letha. Tanner showed several texts that looked like she was spying on Nathan and Krystal Maddox at times. Kristen denied the text and said she did not send them.
"So your phone is conspiring against you?" Tanner asked.
"No that is not what I am saying but there has to be something else happened," Westfall said.
Westfall said she told authorities that her phone had been lost and she was not using it because she had no minutes.
Tanner said that was not true and showed evidence that Westfall was texting up to an hour before the shootings.
Westfall also said that her daughter nor Cameron would not get in the car with her, but Tanner showed several texts that she sent to Cody Shaver stating her daughter and Cameron were with her.
Westfall was shown a text message on her phone to Shaver that said what had happened and that the detectives had interviewed them and cleared them and that they might talk to her friends. Tanner pointed out that she believed Westfall sent that because she wanted to make sure her friends could not be found for police.
Tanner then pointed out that Westfall had several pinger apps that could let her use random phone numbers on different phones. Tanner brought up that two different pinger accounts were opened within a month of the murders happening.
Westfall then told Tanner that she had not surveyed Nathan or Krystal Maddox or never tried to have them killed. Westfall also agreed that she knew some people that were outlaws and criminals. Westfall agreed that she told investigators that Krystal Maddox might have got crossed with the wrong people and that she told authorities some other people who could have done it.
"You called out Sgt. Mayshaw and you had a list that had all these different suspects," Tanner said. "And your list was trashing Nathan."
"I wouldn't say I was trashing, Nathan," Westfall said. "I was telling the truth."
Tanner read part of the list that implicated the Texas syndicate in the murders.
Tanner asked if she was trashing Nathan because she was trying to protect her family. Westfall said she was just saying things she was told.
Westfall also said on the list that she heard Nathan had stolen a pound of weed from a black man, he jacked the Dixie Mafia and other names of people.
"The bottom line is you gave them this big long lists to send them on a wild goose chase, correct?" Tanner asked.
"Yes that is correct," Westfall said.
Westfall said no one was talking about anything the night before the murders.
"Everyone was just quiet in the house," Westfall said. "It was a different mood."
Westfall said the morning of the murders, everything was normal.
"Yes, everything was normal," Westfall said. "I didn't know my dad met with the Masons."
"Who are they?" Tanner said. "Are these some guys that travel and kill?"
"I found out he met that morning with them," Westfall said. "I later heard that they were spooked off by the mowers at the church."
Westfall then told her attorney the reason she told her story was because she learned that her mom and brother took plea deals and her dad had already confessed.
Westfall said she knew her story was going to sound crazy and unbelievable.
"I didn't walk in here blindsided about anything," Westfall said.
Westfall told her attorney that the initial plan was for someone to say nothing but she knew what the plan was they discussed.
"We really thought he would get probation for the tampering because he had never been in trouble," Westfall said.
Westfall said her dad knew what the story was but did not agree with it.
"At first he didn't like it and said he would just take the blame," Westfall said.
Westfall described her relationship with Nathan not as a good one and that she did miss them and that she did not plan any of this.
The defense rested at 10:05 and the state does have rebuttal witnesses.
Westfall's trial is being held in Bryan instead of Tyler County, where the crime was committed. Judge Delinda Gibbs-Walker a request to have the Tyler County woman's trial moved to a neutral site in order to have a fair jury.
The families of Nathan and Krystal Maddox have requested the punishment be life in prison if found guilty and not the death penalty.
After a quick recess the state recalled Bud Sturrock, a captain with the Tyler County Sheriff's Office.
Sturrock presented evidence including a black leather jacket and high heel shoes. Sturrock said all four Westfalls volunteered DNA to him.
Westfall told him that on the day of the murders she was in the woods, Sturrock said. He agreed with the state that high heels and a leather jacket are not what someone would wear into the woods.
Texas Ranger Robert Smith then talked about the evidence he collected off of the Pinger app.
"It is an app you can put on your phone that can mask your phone number," Smith said.
Smith said they know that Westfall used two Pinger accounts and he found multiple times that her phone was related to her Pinger accounts.
"It's like she was texting herself both ways," Smith said.
Smith recalled that on March 17, 2014, Letha Westfall told authorities about Cameron's role. Smith recalled that Letha Westfall was mad at her husband for putting her son in that position.
The state rested with their rebuttal and the defense then once again put Westfall on the stand.
Westfall said she always wore heels unless it was summer and then she would wear flip-flops.
"If I was going trapping with my dad I would," Westfall said. "The traps weren't in the woods so sometimes we did not have to get out of the truck."
Kristen agreed that she chose to give the investigators the boots.
In her closing arguments, co-prosecutor Samantha Ogelsby said the jury does not need DNA or fingerprints because they have heard over and over again of the unrelenting hatred for Nathan and Krystal.
"You have evidence where over and over again you heard her say, 'if you don't do it, I will,'" Ogelsby said.
Ogelsby said Westfall used her daughter as bait and just like the foxes that she hunted with her dad, she trapped Maddox and his wife.
"Krystal did not know what hit her, but Nathan did and only he had was time to scream and try to block a shot," Ogelsby said. "I cannot tell you why she hated Nathan so much and I cannot tell you why she wanted to kill him. What I can tell you is after the divorce, Nathan had a new wife, a house and a new life. She was living in the woods with her family and a meth addiction. All Nathan didn't have was his daughter but he was going to get her."
Ogelsby said even though she tried to say she had nothing to do with it, she set it all up.
"You heard testimony that she earlier said after picking the church that she was heard laughing and saying, 'We won, we got everything we wanted,'" Ogelsby said.
Ogelsby said the victims were scared of Westfall and had told their family about it.
"We saw a message where she said, 'We are going to draw them out,'" Ogelsby said.
Ogelsby brought up Westfall's mother's testimony and how the jury heard about text messages that Letha Westfall sent that showed she was working with Westfall and knew what was going on.
In dealing with Cameron Westfall, Ogelsby said the only thing he did wrong was being an obedient child of his parents.
"You could convict her on his testimony alone," Ogelsby said. "She wants you to believe that Cameron did these crimes."
Ogelsby said this crime was planned for months in advance and that Paul Westfall named Westfall as a second shooter.
Ogelsby pointed out that through all these text messages, Letha Westfall sent a message out that said ,'Get in place.' And that it was sent soon after the lawn crew left the church.
"She wants you to believe that everyone else is coming in here and lying," Ogelsby said. "She wants you to believe she had no intent to see Nathan and Krystal dead. You heard she became paranoid when she did drugs and that her paranoia became fantasy."
"Kristen Westfall had so much hate towards Nathan Maddox," Ogelsby said. "So much that she convinced her family to carry out these murders. "
"She knew Krystal would be a witness and that she would fight for Nathan's daughter," Ogelsby said. "Krystal died a martyr for a daughter she did not give birth to...Kristen plotted and scheme for months. She thought she planned the perfect murder. She thought she was going to get away with it."
Ogelsby said what Westfall did not take into account that her family would turn on her.
"She thought she was smart enough to get away with it and now she thinks she is smart enough to come up on the stand and convince you 14 that one day her family one day woke up and decided to kill Nathan and his wife and blame her," Ogelsby said.
Defense attorney Christine Brown-Zito then addressed the jury.
"Please take time to consider this," Brown-Zito said. "You have Kristen's life in your hands."
Brown-Zito then called the main part of the trial the Letha and Paul Westfall show.
"Letha was attached to this child," Brown-Zito said. "She was obsessed to this child. The whole family dynamic, it is just really sad."
Brown-Zito said Westfall had to deal with a lot but was able to be one of the top in her class and graduated.
"But then she met Nathan," Brown-Zito said. "They started smoking marijuana and then they had Maddison and she stopped. She was honest about it. She said she didn't want to spend the money on it. So they got divorced."
Brown-Zito said when Westfall got divorced and moved back in with her parents, Letha started to be a control freak and tried to control everything. Brown-Zito told the jury this is when Westfall went down a wrong path but was okay with Maddison staying with Paul and Letha.
Brown-Zito said it is hard to believe Cameron because he was held back by his mother and was not socialized.
Brown-Zito said Letha and Paul Westfall had the motive more than anyone else in this case.
"This is a very dysfunctional family," Brown-Zito said.
Brown-Zito said this situation is because Letha Westfall did not want Maddison to go anywhere where she wasn't.
"You saw her on the stand and she never once looked at her daughter," Brown-Zito said. "She did that because she had to stick to the story because she knew Cameron hadn't been sentenced yet and she needed to stick to the story."
Lisa Tanner got back up and said this is a very simple case. Tanner said it comes down to which Westfall child did it.
"Do you believe [Kristen] for what she said for five or six hours yesterday or do you believe everything else," Tanner said.
Tanner told the jury to believe her is to believe that she has been set up as a sacrificial lamb for their crime.
"If you believe all this is conspiring against her then fine let her go," Tanner said. "Go, let her go and ride down the elevator with her and take her to Starbucks."
Tanner said Cameron should not be on trial because he has taken responsibility for what he did. Tanner said Westfall used the same story and descriptions that her brother did.
"She adopted is story and just accepted it as her own," Tanner said. "She is just trying to cut her losses."
Tanner said the state is not trying to say Letha Westfall is a good mom because she isn't and she had a part in it.
"It felt good to show her the texts and have her fess up," Tanner said. "It felt good, but she was involved."
Tanner said Letha will spend the rest of her life in prison so she did not get a sweet deal to testify. Tanner did agree with Brown-Zito on Cameron Westfall when it comes to him not being a bad kid then just does what his parents told him to do.
Tanner called Cameron Westfall a 20-year-old child and that he would never kill anyone or bear false witness to his sister.
"Cameron was involved and did get rid of the guns, but that is all he did," Tanner said. "He only got put into this after he did what his mother told him to do."
Tanner told the jury they need to pay close attention to the text that was five days before the murders that "They need to take care of 'N' by any means necessary" and that the day before there was a text that Tanner said showed the Westfalls were talking about Krystal being an issue.
"Nathan and Krystal built a life together," Tanner said. "It was a short life together thanks to her and Letha and Paul. They want their life to be with Maddie and it was cut short... I can't think of what it was like for Nathan in those final moments. He was trapped like an animal that the Westfalls hunted. He had to be thinking, 'I knew it'."
The case was presented to the jury at 2 p.m.
On the final day of proceedings, family members of the victims were able to read impact statements in the courtroom.
"You took them from us," said Rhonda Humphus, mother of Krystal Maddox. "You never blinked an eye. For so many life has ended we just aren't buried yet. Words will not bring her back to us. Krystal was a true woman that has made more of an impact in thirty years then most will live. She died for your birth child. She was willing to die to save Maddie from you and your family. "
Jim Maddox, father of Nathan Maddox, was the next family member to speak. "Kristen you are emotionless through this whole thing except for a few theatrics and it's what we expected. I'm not always the best at showing love but it doesn't mean I don't love. I don't think like you. I am bound from the book of books that says for me to be forgiven I must forgive you... This court did judge you and they did judge you justly. You have another one coming and he will judge you for everything. You sit there in arrogance now. I've been in ministry for twenty years and I have dealt with dark people and you may be the darkest... Our family has been through hell and this does not fix anything but it does deal with you. I pray for your soul because you have no remorse. I am praying for you because you have a soul, as dark as it is you have a soul."
"This day has been a long time coming," Jelly Haggard, mother of Nathan, said."I thank God for go ring me 34 years with my son. He was more than this picture. He was more than a story in the news. He was my son. The thing I hate right now is when Nathan died the last thing he saw was your face; the face of demonic evil hate. No one should die for loving a child. I wish you could have been different and that we weren't here."
Elijah Durham, grandfather of Krystal Maddox, said, "You show no emotion, just like your mom did. You thought you could get off, but you didn't. Look at your attorney and thank her for her losing your life. I want you to suffer but I would not put a bullet in you because you don't deserve it. Pure evil is all I see. As far as your defense attorney she may need to find another line of work."
Hannah Ogden, sister of Nathan Maddox, said, "I can sit all day but let me sum it up. Kristen Westfall,drop the Maddox because you don't deserve it. You weren't protecting Maddie or loving her. That baby did not know true love. She knew control... You didn't want to see Nathan happy because of how you lived. You are dead inside you are evil. You took away my brother, a great man."'