Former JPS administrator found guilty of capital murder

A former John Peter Smith Hospital administrator was found guilty by a Parker County jury Thursday night of murdering two Arlington women in a Willow Park bank parking lot in 2017.

The jury convicted Christopher Mark Wall, 38, of Weatherford, of capital murder for shooting Krista McClellan, 21, and Ashley Pohorence, 23, on November 4, 2017. According to trial testimony, he met with the women to the bank because they were extorting him for trying to hire prostitutes. With the death penalty not sought by the prosecution, Wall was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

“We believed Mr. Wall killed Krista and Ashley to shut them up and keep them from coming back to him for more money,” said District Attorney Jeff Swain, who tried the case with the district attorney. deputy Kathleen Catania. “The defense argued that it was self-defense or that he was defending his daughter, who was at home 10 miles away.”

The day before the murders, Wall used a website known for illicit activities like prostitution, to solicit two women to come to his office at JPS to have sex with him, according to testimony from Wall and Sierra McMahan. Instead, McClellan and McMahan came to his office, confirmed that Wall wanted to have sex with them, and told him that if he didn’t pay them a large sum of money, they would tell his supervisor and to his wife that he was trying to hire prostitutes. Wall then took the two women to three different Fort Worth banks and withdrew $6,600, which he gave to them.

The next day, according to the testimony, the three women again reached out to Wall and asked him to pay them more money for their silence. Wall met them in the bank parking lot and, after a brief encounter in his car, shot the two women in the head between his car and Pohorence’s car. McMahan, who was in another car, saw the shooting and fled. Wall fled soon after, crushing McClellan’s body on the way.

In Wall’s testimony, he said the women had threatened to kill him that day and that McClellan had shown him a gun in her purse the day before. He said McClellan tried to drag him out of his car and believed she was going to kidnap him. Wall said he got out of his car with his gun, McClellan reached into his purse and shot him. He said he then shot Pohorence when she accused him.

When Wall was questioned by Texas Ranger Tony Bradford the day after the shooting, he initially told her that the women were extorting him but denied killing them. 23 minutes into the interview, Wall said they had threatened to sex traffic his 14-year-old daughter. In a roughly 90-minute interview, he said nothing about the women having a gun, trying to kidnap him, or charging him.

Investigators from the Willow Park Police Department and the Parker County Sheriff’s Office found no firearms or other weapons at the scene. They also located McClellan’s purse in her car, not near her body, and noted that there was no blood on it. Wall shot the two women in the head, causing large amounts of blood to lay on the ground at the scene.

During Wall’s testimony, he admitted to hiding the gun with which he shot the women in a pile of rubble near his home. However, he said he did not do so to hide evidence, as the prosecution suggested. He said he hid it because he couldn’t stand being around the gun anymore since he used it to kill two people.

Wall also admitted to washing his car at a car wash shortly after the shooting. He said he didn’t do it to wash away blood or other evidence, but rather to give himself time to think while he washed the car. Despite the car wash, law enforcement found blood and hair under Wall’s car that DNA tests found belonged to McClellan, according to testimony from Department of Public Safety analysts.

Additionally, Wall told jurors that he deleted all communications with the three women from his phone after the shooting. He wasn’t trying to destroy evidence, he said, but rather he didn’t want it on his phone because it was embarrassing.

Cross-examined by Swain, Wall admitted that he had hired prostitutes he found on the website ten times in the 12 to 18 months before the murders. He denied ever having been extorted before. However, Swain presented a screenshot of an extortion request related to Wall trying to hire prostitutes that had been on Wall’s phone since early 2017.

McMahan testified that she saw Wall chasing McClellan in the back of the car before he shot her and then shot Pohorence just after she got out of her car.

The defense called a crime scene reconstruction expert who testified that the two women fell forward toward Wall after he shot them, which may indicate they were coming toward him at the time. However, he said Pohorence was getting out of the car and getting up when she was shot.

In detail, McMahan told jurors how the three women would be solicited by men on the website, they would meet the men, record their in-person solicitation for sex, and then blackmail them into keeping silent in exchange for ‘silver. From his testimony, the scam appears to have been lucrative. She said they had never threatened violence or carried arms and would flee any threat of violence.

Parker County District Attorney Investigator Marc Gray testified that he viewed more than 250,000 digital files on the phones of Wall and the three women. He said he reviewed hundreds of recordings of the women’s interactions with their “Johns” or “things”, the people they extorted and who solicited prostitution. Gray said they never used or threatened violence, kidnapping or trafficking. The threats were always that the misconduct of the trick would be exposed to their spouse, work or friends, or that they would call the police and report that they were being solicited for sex. He never saw them in possession of weapons either.

“Under Texas law, a person may use force but not deadly force in response to daylight robbery,” Swain said. “However, for robbery, kidnapping or sexual assault, lethal force may be used if the person reasonably believes it is immediately necessary.”

“This whole thing came down to whether or not you believed Mr. Wall,” Swain said. “Between his failure to tell the Texas Ranger about his alleged defenses, his efforts to destroy evidence after the murders, the irreconcilable differences between his version of events and the physical evidence, and the unlikely story of a woman half of his size trying to kidnap him, we just didn’t believe him. I think our jurors must have felt the same way.

The case went to trial in the 43rd District Court under Judge Craig Towson presiding.

This article is scheduled to appear in the July 29 issue of The Community News.