It was exactly this time last year that Lisa Carpenter Graham was handed a death sentence for hiring a hit man to kill her daughter, Stephanie Shae Graham. Graham was convicted of coaxing longtime family acquaintance, Kenneth Walton, to kill her 20-year-old daughter who went by Shea. Walton said Graham met him at the Columbus Public Library on the evening of July 7, 2007, and loaned him her gun, a pistol for the job.
Later, he caught up with Shea at a gas station, where she left her car with friends and rode off with him in his truck. He took her on a long, night drive down Alabama Highway 165 then pulled off on Bowden Road so they could pee.
When Shae got out to squat beside the truck’s open passenger door, and Walton pulled out the gun and shot her in the head from the driver’s seat. He then got out, walked around the truck and shot her over and over again. He left her half-nude, bullet-riddled corpse where it lay, and drove away, running over her arm in the process. He lured Shea Graham from Columbus with the ploy that he could get her a car in which to leave town. She was charged with aggravated assault for a drive-by shooting in Columbus and was due in court the next morning. Her parents had put up a $100,000 bail bond to get her out of jail.
That was Lisa Graham’s primary motive for wanting her daughter dead, per prosecutors: The mother feared the daughter would flee, and her parents would lose the bond. Also, witnesses testified that Lisa suspected her daughter and husband of having an affair and had expressed an interest in killing her herself. In court, when asked how his fatal betrayal of a young woman who trusted him made him feel, Walton responded, “I felt normal.”
Witnesses saw Shae leave the gas station with Walton and so investigators focused on him immediately. He confessed, and told them of Shae’s mother’s involvement, particularly of the gun he had returned to Graham the day after the shooting.
Lisa Graham then incriminated herself when police came looking for the pistol. She had given it to an elderly neighbor she called “Papa” to clean, but told investigators she didn’t know where it was, and allowed them pointlessly to search her house before her husband told them “Papa” might have it.
Finding abundant evidence of her participation, investigators charged her with murder, and it was announced the death penalty was on the table. And she got it.
She still has appeals and appeals and appeals to go through and she’s on the ball. It will be a very long time, if or when, she sees a lethal injection.