Man arrested for murder of stepfather in Orange

Robert Wyatt Walter

Police arrested one man in Orange on Thursday night, July 18, who witnesses say murdered his stepfather.

According to a news release from the Orange Police Department, on July 18 at 10:30 p.m., officers from the Orange Police Department were called to disturbance at 570 Lilac in Orange.  Upon arrival, officers found 38-year-old John W. Lee Jr. unconscious in the yard. Lee had injuries to the head and face. Witnesses at the scene advised that Lee had been assaulted by his adult stepson, Robert Wyatt Walter, 21, who fled the scene prior to officers’ arrival. Several persons were at the residence celebrating Lee’s birthday. Although Lee and his wife had a trespass warning against Walter, they allowed him to attend the birthday party, OPD Captain Cliff Hargrave said.

Officer Howard Devault responded to the incident and reported that upon his arrival at the scene, he observed a woman holding the head of the victim, John Lee, who “lay supine, not moving and not breathing.” The victim was on the ground beside the driver’s side front tire of a 2013 silver Hyundai Elantra. Officer Devault stated in his report that there was blood spatter along the driver’s side of the vehicle from the trunk to the fender. He also observed blood in the grass where the victim was laying unconscious. The victim was reportedly bleeding from his nose, eyes and ears, and the left side of the man’s face appeared swollen.

Acadian Ambulance and the Orange Fire Department arrived, and OFD personnel initiated CPR on Lee. He was then loaded into an ambulance and transported to the emergency room of Memorial Hermann Baptist Hospital-Orange. He was pronounced dead at the emergency room.

Witnesses at the scene of the crime reported Walter fled the scene in a white car. It was reported to OPD that he had been seen at a residence in the 700 block of Gunstream Lane knocking on the front door and covered in blood. Officer Devault immediately drove to the location where the suspect had been spotted. As he arrived, he reported seeing a white male matching the description of Walter exiting a white vehicle. He pointed his police taser at the man and ordered him onto the ground. Devault reported the man verbally identified himself as Robert Walter, the known suspect.

Devault detained Walter and photographed the suspect, noting in his report the man had blood on his hands, black shorts and his stomach area. Walter agreed to speak with a detective, according to Devault. During an interview with police, Walter reportedly confessed to striking Lee during an altercation at 570 Lilac in Orange.

According to Captain Hargrave and witnesses who were at the scene, Walter pummeled Lee to death with his fists. Hargrave said he believed alcohol was a factor in the altercation and confirmed Walter had run-ins with OPD in the past. Walter was serving five years probation for a state jail felony criminal mischief charge at the time of his arrest.

Hargrave pointed out that although Walter fled the scene, he was in custody of OPD officers approximately 28 minutes after the incident was reported.

"The patrol officers did an excellent job in finding and apprehending the suspect (Walter)," Hargrave said. "He was actually in custody before Mr. Lee was pronounced deceased."

Walter was booked for Murder, and is currently in the Orange County Correctional Facility. He was arraigned and bond set at $250,000.