Wilmington man pleads guilty to attempted murder of wife

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Robert Burton Wakler
Robert Burton Walker

A Wilmington man has pleaded guilty to beating his wife with a hammer at their downtown apartment in August 2015.

Robert Burton Walker, 50, will spend the next decade in prison after he pleaded guilty Thursday to an attempted first-degree murder charge in an assault on his wife that left her in the hospital for a month, according to District Attorney Ben David.

Walker married his wife in May 2015, David said. Almost three months later, he placed a call to 911 on Aug. 22 and told a dispatcher he had assaulted his wife with a hammer inside the apartment they shared on North Front Street, David said. Walker further told dispatch that his wife was bleeding and injured. Law enforcement arrived on scene shortly thereafter and placed Walker under arrest. He has been in custody since. 

The victim had suffered fractures to her hands, face and one of her legs. She required immediate surgery due to the head trauma and remained hospitalized for a month following the assault, David said, adding that she also required a wheel chair for several months after the incident.

“This was a brutal assault that required the victim to be hospitalized for an extensive period of time; we want nothing less than holding the defendant fully accountable for his actions,” David said.

The woman testified during the trial, which began Tuesday in New Hanover County Superior Court, that due to the injuries to her hands she is no longer able to work in her chosen profession, David said. She had worked for many years as a hair dresser at a local salon. She also made a victim’s impact statement to the court at the time of Walker’s sentencing.

Walker was represented by attorney Russel Davis. Assistant District Attorney Lillian Salcines Bright prosecuted the case for the state. Superior Court Judge Phyllis Gorham sentenced Walker to between 125 and 162 months in the N.C. Department of Corrections.

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