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Murderer points to wounds, fear in appeal

Contreras, who is seeking an overturn of his life sentence, claims his innocence on the stand

Posted: August 18, 2011 1:30 a.m.
Updated: August 18, 2011 1:30 a.m.
 

VAN NUYS — A convicted murderer who spent the last 15 years in prison denied Wednesday that he had any role in the slaying or dismemberment of the victim in the case.

Edward Contreras, with his hair combed back and wearing blue prison coveralls, testified he did not help convicted murderer Scott Taylor dismember the body of Frederick Walker in 1995.

“I tried any reason I could to get away from him,” Contreras said on the witness stand of fellow convicted murderer Scott Taylor.

Contreras, formerly of Canyon Country, was found guilty along with Taylor in 1997 of the Walker murder.

The victim was beaten to death at a barbecue at Taylor’s mother’s home in Santa Clarita, his body hacked to pieces and dumped in Bouquet Canyon.

Contreras is serving a life sentence, and has remained in prison since 1997.

Scar evidence
On Wednesday, he explained that he was petrified with fear that Taylor would harm him.

At one point, he told Van Nuys Superior Court Judge Gregory A. Dohi that he suffered a machete injury to his hand in a confrontation with Taylor.

Dohi stood up from the bench and examined a small scar on Contreras’ hand.

Contreras, who on Wednesday was led to the witness stand with his hands handcuffed behind his back, had the cuffs removed by a sheriff’s deputy before he began testifying.

Deputy District Attorney Juan R. Mejia asked him to explain why not a drop of his blood was found in the house near the crime scene if, as Contreras claims, his wound was bleeding profusely.

“I applied pressure to the wound with my other hand,” Contreras said. “I wasn’t keeping track of where it dripped.”

Lawyers defending Contreras represent an organization devoted to overturning convictions of wrongly convicted prisoners.

The man representing Contreras is Justin Brooks, director of the California Innocence Project. Brooks said Wednesday’s court proceeding was a habeas corpus hearing to determine if there is enough new evidence for a new trial.

In the Contreras case, people who testified at the murder trial in 1997 have come forward recently, and, under oath, told the court that lied.

In June, Taylor, 36, told the court: “I’m the one who hit Freddy Walker. ... I’m the one who slit his throat. I’m the one who killed him.”

Taylor was not the only one to recant in the ongoing court proceedings.

Lisa Garringer, a woman present during the killing, also testified previously that Contreras had nothing to do with Walker’s murder, contradicting her previous statements.

Sister’s disbelief
Walker’s sister, Michelle Walker-Dresser, 39, isn’t buying any of it.

“He’s a monster, and he’s evil,” she said of Contreras, adding she did not believe anything the convicted murderer said on the stand Wednesday. “I truly believe, in my heart, that he was definitely involved.

“I don’t buy it one bit,” she said.

At one point in  the proceedings Wednesday, when Mejia talked about Walker’s head, arms and feet being cut from his body, Walker-Dresser’s 23-year-old daughter Amanda began crying uncontrollably as she left the courtroom.

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