Gruesome details emerged in court Friday in the case against a nurse's aide accused of embezzling from and smothering to death an 82-year-old assisted living patient in November.
Circuit Court Judge Lee Alford denied Braquette Wykina Walton's request for bond.
Walton, 31, confessed to killing Pauline Cook, whom she had cared for at the center, and then trying to cover up the crime, 16th Circuit Solicitor Kevin Brackett said in court Friday.
Cook was found in her shower at OakBridge Terrace assisted living in Rock Hill. Walton had been in jail without bond since her arrest five days after Cook was killed.
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Calling the evidence against Walton "extremely powerful and compelling," Brackett told Alford that Walton forged and cashed more than $1,200 in checks made out to Walton on Cook's account.
Brackett said Walton then used her work badge to secretly enter the building, hide from security cameras and employees, and then killed Cook. She hid in an unused room and surreptitiously called a nursing station at least seven times in an attempt to get into the Cook's room undetected, Brackett said.
Getting into the room after Cook fell asleep, Walton smothered Cook "in a violent struggle," Brackett said, then dragged her to the shower and left the water running. The bed was made and clothes we laid out, he said, to make it look like there was no crime.
The safety of other elderly residents and the community at large would be at risk if Walton were released, the solicitor argued, because she is accused of a crime of stealth involving money and subterfuge - made worse by an attempted cover-up.
More than 20 of Cook's family members, mainly from Clover where she grew up and Gaston County, N.C., where Cook worked as a receptionist at a country club for 37 years, attended the hearing to oppose bond.
"If (Walton) would have asked for money," Nephew Josh Welch said, Cook "would have given it to her. She didn't have to steal, and she didn't have to kill her."
Walton confessed after twice denying in police interviews any connection to the crime, Brackett said.
Walton's court-appointed lawyer, Phil Smith of the York County Public Defender's Office, said Walton "does not agree" with what the solicitor said about the crime's details.
But Smith offered no counterpoint in court or afterward about what Walton's defense might be or what allegations prosecutors raised Walton would dispute. Walton has no criminal history, Smith said.
Alford cited the severity of the allegations and Walton's originally being from Mississippi with relatives in North Carolina in denying bond.
"Based on what I have heard, the state has a very strong case," Alford said. "I would consider her a flight risk."
After the hearing, Jim Petty, executive director at the assisted living center, who attended the hearing, reiterated that a background check had been conducted before Walton she was hired several months earlier. He called the crime a "betrayal."
"We want to see justice done," Petty said. "We loved Pauline Cook and still do."
Walton faces 30 years to life in prison if convicted of the murder and financial crimes. A trial date has not been set.