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Murder victim’s mother turned tears to advocacy but still wrestles with dreams of his death

  • Author: Zaz Hollander
  • Updated: August 20, 2017
  • Published August 20, 2017

PALMER — Terria Walters finally knows what happened during the last moments of her son's life, before his murder at age 23.

The details emerged in a confidential report prepared ahead of the sentencing of his convicted killer, Joshua Beebe, 32, of Wasilla.

On Thursday, Beebe was ordered to serve 25 years in prison for the June 23, 2015, murder.

Terria Walters in 2015. (Bob Hallinen / Alaska Dispatch News)

Christopher Seaman was shot in the back of the head at one of the fireworks stands that straddle the Parks Highway in Houston, his mother said, citing the confidential pre-sentence report. Then he was dragged across the parking lot to his car and shoved into the back seat.

"He's my child. I'm just thinking, was he terrified? Even in the moments before, did he know it was going to happen?" Walters said Friday. "I will live with that and relive it for the rest of my life.

Under a plea deal reached earlier this year, Beebe received a 60-year sentence with 25 years to serve and 10 years of probation.

Walters faced the 32-year-old during the sentencing hearing at the Palmer courthouse Thursday. It would have been Seaman's 26th birthday. Friends and supporters packed the courtroom.

"I have nightmares about what happened to my son regularly," she said she told Beebe. "Regularly."

Drugs were apparently involved in the crime.

Seaman, a heroin addict who had been clean for 18 months before he relapsed before the murder, was probably selling small amounts to feed his own habit and met up with Beebe for a buy, his mother said. Palmer police had arrested him a few months earlier in a motel room where they found a heroin residue-coated spoon and more than $8,000 in cash.

Alaska State Troopers say Beebe and 30-year-old Willow resident Robert Casello shot and robbed a different man five days before Seaman was killed.

In July, Casello received a lighter sentence — three years in prison and five years probation — in exchange for his cooperation in the Seaman case. He helped investigators recover Beebe's cellphone, which included text messages between Beebe and Seaman "that linked Beebe directly to the homicide," according to a sentencing memorandum.

Christopher Seaman (Alaska State Troopers)

Beebe, originally charged with six felony counts of murder, robbery and assault, was sentenced on just one count of second-degree murder in exchange for his guilty plea earlier this year.

Beebe was ambiguous when it came time for him to say at his sentencing Thursday whether he accepted responsibility for his actions, Walters said.

"The way he worded it was 'I'm sorry for what happened to your son, you shouldn't have buried your son,' type of statements," she said. "But then at the end, when no one was looking, he turned around and mouthed to me: 'I'm sorry.' "

She just nodded in response.

Walters has faced her own struggles with addiction.

She found herself in that same Palmer courtroom 10 years ago. Alaska State Troopers arrested her for making meth in a converted bus in Big Lake where they also found a man and Seaman, who was 13 at the time.

Walters was sentenced to five years in prison, where she received two years of treatment at Hiland Mountain Correctional Center. But it wasn't until Seaman died that Walters' advocacy on drug treatment for prisoners took off. She formed a faith-based nonprofit called Fallen Up Ministries and participated in the Mat-Su Opioid Task Force.

"I've gotten to the point where I'm more focused on honoring my son than I am on vengeance," she said. "I just can't live my life like that."

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