Was young Airman's death a tragic accident or murder?
- Extra: Robbie Walters interrogation
- Extra: Secret cell phone recording reveals bombshell
- Extra: Brittney's sister speaks out
- More »
Robert "Robbie" Walters and Brittney Brashers
Brittany Austin-Goyne says the Foxxy Football League was serious stuff.
"It was a sport that, we didn't get paid to do it, we just did it 'cause we loved it. It was something for us to do as women," Austin-Goyne explained. "It's eight on eight...and it was full on tackle football. ...We had helmets, mouth guards, shoulder pads, elbow pads, knee pads, cleats. It was full-on tackle. It was awesome."
As team captain, she was delighted when Brittney Brashers signed up in 2009.
"She seemed so dainty, almost, because she just looked so fragile, and then when practice started, Brittney was a natural," said Austin-Goyne.
"She was very athletic," noted Susan Spencer.
"Very much so."
On Nov. 16, they drove to Denver for the team's publicity photo shoot.
"We all, at one point, eventually had no top and we would have...a body part of someone else covering. So, you couldn't really see anything, but it's supposed to be, like, a sexy kind of football league," said Austin-Goyne of how they posed.
"And everybody was having a good time?" Spencer asked, with a laugh.
"We had an amazing time. We really did," Austin-Goyne replied.
Not everybody. Although the shoot was supposed to be closed, Robbie Walters tagged along.
"He was kind of hunched over, kind of covering his face...," Austin-Goyne explained. "You know, he had his hand -- or his phone in his hand, and he kind of looked like he was, shaking or panting, you know when you kinda laugh?
"Then all of a sudden I saw just tears coming down his face, dripping to the ground. And I was like--" she continued.
Walters was sobbing and texting. He was sending text messages to Brittney's boss that night.
"I was sad the relationship was coming to an end," he told Spencer
He was turning Brittney in for seeing him against orders.
"So this is my way of getting back at her. She put me in jail," Walters explained. "And I figured if I got her in trouble, that would be the end of it and I could just leave and go to California."
Whatever anger Walters was feeling about the photo shoot and about the breakup, the couple was seen leaving together around 12:30 a.m.
Asked if Brittney was drunk, Walters told Spencer, "Oh yeah."
"Were you -"
"Was definitely drunk. Yeah, I was definitely drunk," he replied. "I put my head down, and I was listening to the music, and -- I wasn't paying attention to the driving at all."
About an hour later, Brittney's car slammed into a parked vehicle on a dead-end street. That's when Steve Sanchez heard the crash, ran outside and called 911:
911: Hello this is the paramedics.
Steve Sanchez: Yes I got two people in this car right here, and the one don't look good at all.
911: Are you with the person that's hurt now?
Steve Sanchez: I'm standing right outside of the car.
"He was shaking her when I came out... I told him, 'You're going to hurt her. Quit shaking her, she might be hurt.' And then he looked over at me like surprised and started crying her name out," said Sanchez.
Spencer asked Walters, "Do you remember the actual crash?"
"No. No," he replied.
"Why was she off the freeway in this strange neighborhood?"
"I don't know. I don't even know where we were at," he said.
"And you were asleep?"
"I -- I wasn't asleep. I was in the process of goin' to sleep. I was slipping into unconsciousness, definitely."
Detective Troy Bisgard says at first, Walters' story seemed to make sense.
"He said that he had just woken up to find Brittney's head in his lap and she was unconscious... You can see the windshield there..." he said, pointing out to Spencer where Brittney hit her head.
But homicide was called in because the cops at the scene thought something just didn't look right.
"They're the ones telling me, 'Look, it was a car accident but it wasn't so significant that she should be dead from it,'" said Bisgard.
Medical examiner John Carver was baffled. "Here's this accident, I don't understand why this person's dead, but maybe the toxicology will show something," he said.
Brittney's blood alcohol level was over the legal limit, but only barely. There were no drugs in her system and she didn't hit the windshield all that hard.
"Brittney didn't have any any significant injuries of long bones, or internal organs, or the base of the neck, or the spinal cord, or the skull or the brain," explained Dr. Carver.
The injuries Brittney did have weren't what Carver expected to see.
"There's extensive bruising around her temple and upper right cheek..." he said.
More alarming, he saw telltale signs that she might have been strangled.
"The main thing...were these pinpoint hemorrhages on the skin of the face and surrounding the eyes," Carver explained.
But strangulation was hard to confirm because, Carver says, "Brittney's anatomy was different."
She was missing a piece of cartilage in the throat that usually is crushed when someone's strangled. "There was nothing to injure or to break," he said.
So Dr. Carver was in a bind. Without more proof, he couldn't rule Brittney's death a homicide; but it sure didn't seem like an accident.
"The cause of death to me was undetermined, the manner of death, to me, was undetermined," he said. "Undetermined. I don't know."
"Undetermined" meant no ruling of homicide. So, officially, no crime and no grounds for arrest. But the more Det. Bisgard learned about Robbie Walters, the more convinced he became that this was murder. First, there was a statement Brittney gave police after the October fight that landed Walters in jail.
"The officer's report, it specifically stated that the victim told them that he had threatened to crash the car and hurt or injure them both," said Bisgard.
And Bisgard had discovered something else: A hidden recording on Brittney's phone left after that fight:
Robbie Walters recording: F--k you. I hate your f---ing guts. You f---ed me over. I f---ing hate you. ... I hope you f---ing die. I f---ing hate you.
"She actually disguised the recording as the name of a ringtone and that's where it was, so it was just pure luck that we found it," said Bisgard.
"Why would you leave a message like that?" Spencer asked Walters.
"Why would I leave a message like that? That message was left after Britney called the cops on me and I went to jail. And I was -- I was angry," he replied.
Detective Bisgard also wondered why Walters couldn't remember anything about the crash -- but was crystal clear about one specific detail from that night.
"He told me at some point...that she took her top off during the photo shoot," Bisgard told Spencer.
"What did that have to do with anything?" Spencer asked.
"I don't know. And that struck me as odd. Why would you say that. I don't get that," he replied.
In his grief, Brittney Brasher's father, Barry, was confused.
Spencer asked, "So when you heard that she had not been wearing a seat belt?"
"Oh, that was absolutely a red flag went up," Brashers said. "She would never move a car without...puttin' her seat belt on. Never."
"...you were convinced that he had something to do with it."
"Oh, that he had some -- she was dead because of him. To what extent, I had-- I had no idea what," Brashers replied.
Barry Brashers soon was urging Detective Bisgard to keep investigating -- find something. But "undetermined" on that autopsy report meant Bisgard's hands were tied.
"...it just -- it didn't matter what I thought. It didn't matter what anybody else thought. We had nothing. Without a cause of death for Brittany, I -- I had nothing," he said. "I just did not see a chance of proving this case."
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