Wed | Jun 19, 2024

‘I’m looking for a life sentence’

Wife of taxi driver killed in Campbell-Collymore murder plot thankful for guilty verdict, says nothing can replace her children’s father

Published:Sunday | May 19, 2024 | 12:10 AMCorey Robinson - Senior Staff Reporter
Jewel Walters with her children in 2018 shortly after her husband, Winston ‘Corey’ Walters, was murdered along with Simone Campbell-Collymore.
Winston ‘Corey’ Walters, the taxi driver murdered alongside businesswoman Simone Campbell-Collymore in 2018.

Almost 60 students and staff at an elementary school in Dumfries, Virginia in the United States, erupted in excitement when the Supreme Court last week found businessman Omar Collymore guilty of plotting the murder of his wife and, consequently, her taxi driver in January 2018.

Many of the students were infants when the incident occurred, and most of the staff members had only heard snippets of information around the shooting that took place in Jamaica six years ago. Still, for months they had been hoping and praying for the conviction, which they believed God granted last Wednesday.

It was the least they could do after seeing the hell their beloved teacher and colleague, Jewel Walters – widow of Winston ‘Corey’ Walters, the unsung taxi operator who was shot and killed in the incident – had been enduring for the past two years. They celebrated her victory as if it were their own.

Despite the years and their migration to a new country, Corey’s death still pains his family. For Jewel, it has been six birthdays, six Father’s Days, six Christmases, and every day in between, that she and Corey’s children and relatives have been aching nonstop. Corey also has an older son from another relationship. He too has been taking his dad’s murder hard.

The conviction is bittersweet, she explained, and it is now up to the judge to do the right thing, and “give Collymore a life sentence”.

“Just as in Jamaica, my students knew of my situation and what was happening,” noted Jewel, who migrated to the US two years ago to continue her teaching career. The move, she explained, had to be made for the mental well-being of her and her children. On Wednesday she joined the trial by Zoom, and “screamed as the verdict was being read in court”.

“My colleagues, my students, they all came in and they were all so happy. The students cried with me yesterday. I have 60 students in total and everyone cried,” Jewel told The Sunday Gleaner on Thursday, noting that for the most part the entire school was on edge awaiting the jury’s decision Wednesday.

The two and a half hour deliberation was excruciating for everyone, she explained, probably hardest for her eldest son, now 17, the most affected mentally by her husband’s murder. Her second son, 13, recently acted out in school after a bully mentioned his father, she explained; while her youngest, 11, hangs on to his father’s essence through photographs. The minutes seemed like years, she said.

“It was bittersweet. I cried when I heard … but what is justice, really? By law, justice was served but I’m still waiting for the sentencing to see what is what,” she continued. “There is absolutely nothing that can replace what was taken away from my kids and I – absolutely nothing!”

“The maximum sentence of life (imprisonment) is what I’m looking for. They took the maximum prize from me, and nothing can be done to replace what was taken away. All of them sitting in prison still have life; and Corey would say ‘as long as you have life, you can fight another day.’ But he cannot fight. Nothing that the judge gives them can replace my children’s father. So I’m looking for a life sentence.”

Collymore joins contract killer Michael Adams and accomplice Dwayne Pink, who were also found guilty of facilitating the murder. Another person, Shaquilla Edwards, was found not guilty on two counts of murder but guilty of conspiracy to murder. Their fate was handed down by a seven-member jury.

A graphic video of the incident circulated on social media in 2018, showing men riding up on motorcycles and spraying Collymore’s wife, Simone Campbell-Collymore and her taxi driver, Walters, with bullets. The shooters went back and forth ensuring that their victims were dead as the vehicle rolled towards Campbell-Collymore’s Forest Ridge apartment complex in Red Hills.

The court heard that Collymore had hired Adams to facilitate the murder of his wife and that Edwards and Pink allegedly played a role in surveilling the businesswoman’s movements before death. A triggerman in Campbell-Collymore’s murder testified that the hit was for $2 million.

Collymore was reportedly the sole beneficiary on his wife’s $21-million life insurance policy and was allotted 70 per cent of her second life insurance policy worth $80 million. Campbell-Collymore had finalised the $80-million life insurance policy less than three months before she was murdered to add to the $21-million policy, the court was told. Cell phone data evidence also revealed that Collymore was in continuous contact with the contract killer on the days leading up to his wife’s murder.

Even now, the details of the horrific set-up leave Jewel’s stomach in knots. It is unfathomable that a husband and a father could do this to his wife and the mother of his children, she charged.

“I can’t process it because that is not love; that is just wickedness. It is not just about his wife, it is the fact that you have two kids together with this person. This is the mother of your children,” she said. “I am wondering if he even loved his children because you cannot possibly have love in your heart and do this.”

“Was the motive money, ego? What is it now when you are pretty much losing everything?”

Jewel said that, as she did after the murder, she has been putting all her efforts into her career and into rearing decent young men. That’s what their father would have wanted, she said.

“He wasn’t just a taxi driver, Corey was a certified mechanic, a loving husband and father. He only did taxi work to bring in additional income for his family.”