A man who admitted to killing an acquaintance may have a second chance to prove he is innocent. In a judgment handed down in mid-September, Pettis County Judge Robert Koffman ordered that the original charges in the case of Walter J. Staten, 50, be reinstated. Staten was charged in May 2011 with murder, armed criminal action, and felon in possession of a firearm.
Staten confessed to the murder of William Saunders, 39, before Judge Koffman on June 13, 2012. Staten told detectives he and Saunders had an argument while watching a ball game at Staten’s mother’s home on Albright Ct., according to court documents. Authorities believe Staten shot Saunders before running out the back door.
In exchange for his guilty plea, the court amended the charges to involuntary manslaughter and armed criminal action. He was sentenced to 15 years in the Missouri Department of Corrections on the first count and 25 years on the second, with the terms to run consecutively.
In a post conviction relief motion filed less than three months after he pleaded guilty, Staten asked the court to set aside the conviction and ordered that he be given a new trial. On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, Staten was granted a new trial. The arguments to be heard will serve to determine whether the conviction or sentence imposed violated the constitution.
Staten was transferred from the Missouri Department of Corrections to the Pettis County jail where he is being held on a $1 million bond.
Staten’s criminal record includes a three year prison sentence for a second-degree assault charge in 2008. He also pleaded guilty to a drug charge in 2009.