CONWAY, AR – After nine hours of deliberation, a jury found Cortez Waller not guilty on all counts in the shooting death of Chris Childress.
Waller was charged with 2nd degree murder and aggravated assault when he shot Childress in the parking lot of the Conway Police Department last July. The shooting happened in front of Childress’ three children and their mother. Waller immediately turned himself in to police after the incident.
At times, the four-day trial was extremely emotional. Several witnesses cried while testifying, and at one point the judge called a 15 minute recess so a witness could compose herself.
After the judge read the not guilty verdict Friday night several people in the courtroom were visibly stunned. Deranda Carter, who has three children with Childress and admits to cheating on him with Cortez Waller, had to be carried out of the courthouse by family.
Darlene Weathers, Childress’ mother, was in a state of disbelief. “What’s happened to the world when a person can gun somebody down in front of a police station, and in front of his three children, and then walk away? Where is justice anymore?”
Waller testified that he had been threatened several times by Childress and that Childress followed him to the police department and came at him in an aggressive manner. Waller’s attorney, Frank Shaw, argued that the shooting was done in self defense.
Shaw said the verdict was not cause for celebration. “Two families have been seriously damaged. One has lost a life, the other, Waller’s family, has been damaged forever by this charge. Even though he’s acquitted, he’ll carry this burden with him forever.”