Retired Marine Walter Smith Drowned his Girlfriend Nicole Speirs in the Bathtub, Blamed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (2006)

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Nicole Speirs

Did the status as a Marine with PTSD shape the way this crime was handled?

Learn more: Complex Post Traumatic Stress and Dissociation in Military and Veteran Populations

The PTSD Defense:

  • Vet with PTSD dissociates, overreacts, self defense
  • Vet with PTSD dissociates, blames suicidal thoughts & pain, unravels
  • Vet who is violent criminal, doesn’t have PTSD, yet uses as defense
  • Vet who is violent criminal & has PTSD, yet would have committed crime regardless because violent criminal first (who happens to have PTSD)
  • How do we differentiate between dissociation & violent criminal activity?
  • When do we apply PTSD as a mitigating factor in homicide cases?
  • PTSD doesn’t cause crime, the propensity to harm is innate, can have both
  • Although manslaughter is lesser offense, it is still a homicide
  • Is it fair to use mitigating circumstances like PTSD, crime of passion, jealousy, etc. when the end result was murder? Impact on victim’s family.

Related Links:
Judge orders exhumation in Tooele murder probe
Woman’s body to be exhumed
Man Admits to Taking Part in Girlfriend’s Death 
Local Marine now accused killer
Man Accused of Murdering His Girlfriend Deemed Competent to Stand Trial 
Man Sentenced in Drowning Death of Girlfriend
Woman’s killer sentenced to prison
Man who drowned girlfriend sentenced to prison
Man Sentenced in Drowning Death of Girlfriend
Man who drowned girlfriend sentenced to prison
Ex-Marine gets up to 15 years for slaying girlfriend in tub
2006 slaying capped vet’s descent
Tooele woman’s parents want her killer to serve maximum sentence
An Iraq Veteran’s Descent; a Prosecutor’s Choice
Home from war, and traumatized Walter Smith killed a young mother, but was his treatment to blame?
The Case of Lance Cpl. Walter R. Smith
No parole for Utah Marine who drowned girlfriend
A New Theory of PTSD and Veterans: Moral Injury
Nicole Speirs murder 3/25/2006 Tooele, UT *Boyfriend Walter Smith charged with her murder*
Update: Nicole Speirs murder *Walter Smith convicted, sentenced to 1 – 15 years in prison*
Unraveled: Deadly Demons (Investigation Discovery)
Unraveled: Deadly Demons (ID GO)

“Walter Smith is a Marine Corps soldier just back from Iraq. Diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Walter finds comfort in the arms of young artist Nicole Speirs. But in the darkest recesses of the mind, their cruel fate is already decided.” -Discovery ID

Pfc. Tina Priest, US Army, Died From a Non-Combat Related Incident in Iraq; Death Ruled Suicide But Family Suspects Rape and Murder (2006)

Tina Priest

Tina Priest, US Army

Pfc. Tina Priest, 20, US Army, died from a non-combat related injury in Taji, Iraq on March 1st, 2006. She was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom on behalf of the 4th Support Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Divison at Fort Hood, Texas. The Army ruled the death an apparent suicide but Tina’s parents dispute that finding based on the evidence and believe that she was raped and murdered. Tina reported a rape two weeks prior to her death. This case is no longer under investigation but considered a cold case because of the families concerns with the cause of death ruling by the Army.

Related Links:
DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Army Pfc. Tina M. Priest
Tina Priest’s Death In Iraq Under Investigation
Did Army do enough to prevent soldier’s death? (2007)
Family disputes Army’s suicide finding in daughter’s death
U.S. Military Is Keeping Secrets About Female Soldiers’ ‘Suicides’
Pfc. Tina Priest’s rape and the Irony of the Iraq War
“Rape in the Ranks: The Enemy Within”
U.S. Military Covering Up Possible Murders of Female Service Members
Sisters in Death: The Systemic Misogyny of Militarism Leads To Deaths of U.S. Servicewomen and Iraqi Civilian Women
Is U.S. Military Covering Up Rape, Murder?
Hiding Military Sexual Trauma
A Shot Away: Personal Accounts of Military Sexual Trauma
Waging Gendered Wars: U.S. Military Women in Afghanistan and Iraq
Non Combat Deaths of Female Soldiers in the US Military (Iraq)
Violent Crime, Suicide, and Non Combat Death at Fort Hood, Texas (US Army)
Military Policy and Legislation Considerations for the Investigations of Non Combat Death, Homicide, and Suicide of US Service Members
Stop Killing Us!!! (YouTube)
The Silent Truth (Documentary)


Ninety-four US military women in the military have died in Iraq or during Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). ‘The Silent Truth’ tells the story of one of these women, PFC LaVena Lynn Johnson, who was found dead on Balad Air Force Base in Iraq. The army claimed she shot herself with her own M16 rifle, but forensic evidence, obtained by the Johnson family through the Freedom of Information Act, brings the army’s findings into question. The Army refuses to re-open LaVena Johnson’s case, leaving the family in limbo. ‘The Silent Truth’ follows the Johnson’s pursuit of justice and truth for their daughter. -The Silent Truth