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Walter Marsh, a US citizen slashes throat of Australian nurse

Former US marine Walter Marsh has been found guilty of the murder of Sydney nurse manager Michelle Beets.

A Supreme Court jury found the 51-year-old American citizen guilty of cutting Ms Beets’s throat & stabbing her to death in April 2010.

After the verdict was handed down, people in the public gallery applauded, causing Justice Derek Price to say there should be no further outbursts in the court.

Walter Marsh ... on trial for six weeks for the murder of Michelle Beets.
Walter Marsh … A six weeks trial for the murder of Michelle Beets.

Outwardly, Marsh appeared calm when the verdict was announced, taking a sip of water, removing his glasses and putting them in their case.

As he left the dock and began to go down the steps he gave a finger sign to the people in the public gallery.

Outside the court, Ms Beets’ long term partner, lawyer David Grant, said he was very relieved at the verdict.

Relieved at the verdict ...  David Grant, the partner of murder victim Michelle Beets.
Relieved at the verdict … David Grant, the partner of murder victim Michelle Beets. Photo: Wolter Peeters

“It has been a long hard 18 months for myself, Michelle’s family and friends,” he said.

There had been “a lot of tough times” but he had coped coming to the trial.

“She was well loved and continues to be,” he said. “I am going to go off and have a beer now and get on with my life.”

Ms Betts, 57,  was found lying in a pool of blood on the verandah of her Chatswood home, with eight stab wounds and deep slashes to her neck.

During the course of the six-week trial, the jury heard that Marsh meticulously planned the killing and used a special military throat-cutting technique on Ms Beets that was supposed to stop her from screaming as she was being butchered.

But his plans came undone when she saw Marsh coming, alerting neighbours and passersby with her shouts. They then saw a hooded Marsh fleeing the scene after the killing of Beets.

The former marine was motivated, the court heard, by a powerful resentment towards Ms Beets over her decision not to renew his contract as a nurse at Royal North Shore Hospital.

He also believed that Ms Beets had given him bad references and that this had prevented him from getting another job – something that threatened his working visa.

Among a powerful brief of evidence presented by the prosecution was testimony from Marsh’s wife who told the court that her husband had confessed to killing Ms Beets on the day it happened.

The public gallery burst into spontaneous applause after the jury foreman read the verdict, with Justice Derek Price ordering that there be “no more public outbursts”.

Marsh was impassive in the dock, looking at his lawyers and shrugging.

But as he turned and began the walk back down to the cells, he waved his finger at Ms Beets’s friends and family, a final act of defiance before he disappeared down the stairs.

Brother’s relief

Marty Beets, the brother of Michelle Beets, said he was “pleased and satisfied with the verdict”, but that there never would be complete closure for him and his family.

“It’s a relief that we get to know who is the murderer,” he said on the phone from New Zealand this afternoon.

“Unfortunately for other people [whose family members are killed], they may never know who the murderer is.

“And it’s a closure but it’s not because it will never be closed – every Christmas, every birthday, we will always remember her. She will always be in our lives.

“At least we know the correct person has been tried & convicted for the crime.”

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