Jury Convicts Man of Soliciting Murders

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SAN DIEGO – John Arthur Walthall, 60, was convicted by a federal jury yesterday of soliciting the murders and assaults of a federal judge, two federal prosecutors and two federal agents following a one-week trial before U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney in Santa Ana, California.
A federal jury deliberated approximately two hours and found Walthall guilty of soliciting the murders and assaults of U.S. District Judge Andrew Guilford, AUSAs’ Ivy Wang and Mark Takla, and FBI Agents Brad Howard and Frank Bernal, in violation of 18 U.S.C. Section 373.
At trial, the government presented evidence that Walthall was charged in 2009 with four counts of wire fraud and one count of failure to appear after he convinced an Orange County elderly couple to invest $5.5 million in a scheme where he promised to extract gold from abandoned mines.  While pending trial, Walthall fled and was arrested in July 2011 in Nevada with a .45 caliber pistol, 3 barrel extenders, 3 magazines, a fake silencer and the book titled, “How to Be Invisible.”  Walthall was later convicted and in April 2012 was sentenced to 168 months in prison.
In March 2014, the FBI was contacted by family members of two inmates at FCI Lompoc with information that Walthall had approached them and asked for their assistance in kidnapping and murdering Guilford, Wang, Takla, Howard, Bernal and others including his former defense attorney.  Walthall’s plan included kidnapping Judge Guilford, forcing him to exonerate Walthall, cutting one of his eyes out and killing him by placing him in a wood chipper.  Agents were able to record one of those inmates as well as an undercover agent meeting with Walthall where he repeated his plans.  Agents learned that Walthall had been planning this for three years and provided step-by-step instructions on how he wanted his plans carried out.  Agents also learned that Walthall had solicited another inmate in Santa Ana Jail following his conviction in 2011.
At trial, Walthall claimed he was insane and suffered from paranoid schizophrenia or a delusional disorder.  The United States relied upon a mental health expert witness as well as Bureau of Prisons psychologists that had assessed Walthall throughout the years and found no signs that he suffered from these diseases. This case was prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California because the Central District of California was recused.

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