Greeley man sentenced to 48 years in prison after pleading guilty to killing woman, hiding her body in steamer trunk |

Greeley man sentenced to 48 years in prison after pleading guilty to killing woman, hiding her body in steamer trunk

David Batty
Courtesy Greeley Tribune


David Wayne Batty had a history of domestic violence, and court records indicate some misdemeanor convictions in other counties in 2006. In 2009, in Weld County, he was sentenced to 90 days in jail for a misdemeanor harassment charge. In 2010, he was charged with violating a protection order. A year later, Batty was convicted of second-degree assault, causing serious bodily injury, earning a sentence to eight years in prison.

David Batty said he doesn’t remember killing Tonya Webster.

Even though in June he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in connection with her death, and even though Weld District Court Judge Timothy Kerns on Monday sentenced him to 48 years in prison for the crime, Batty told police and attorneys he doesn’t remember it. He said he was blackout drunk.

Still, in March 2016, Batty’s parole officers found Webster’s body hidden inside an old steamer trunk in his closet. The two met at a local homeless shelter three years prior, police believe, and formed a friendship that later became intimate. It was not, however, equal, said Tate Costin, one of the case’s prosecutors. She described Batty as aggressively laying out his demands and Webster hoping the relationship would turn into something more serious.

Police were unable to determine exactly when Webster died, but the last text she sent — which was to Batty — was dated March 11. Police and prosecutors believe she was heading to his house for sex, and that sometime between that day and March 16, Batty strangled her.

Alcohol-tinged violence was nothing new for Batty, Costin said. He had a history of domestic violence against his wife and various girlfriends, and, at the time of Webster’s killing, he was on parole for one such case.

“A man with his history, with his complete disregard … toward the seriousness of his actions deserves no leniency from this court,” Costin said.

Jake Goldstein, Batty’s attorney, reminded Kerns that Batty had never hidden from responsibility in the case.

“(Batty) is not standing before the court saying, ‘I did not commit this crime,’ ” Goldstein said. “He has said, ‘I’m guilty of this crime,’ and then he said, ‘I can’t remember what happened because I was in an alcoholic blackout.’ “

Goldstein also reminded the judge Batty has been diagnosed with PTSD after a childhood marred by an abusive father. Throughout his life, Goldstein said, Batty used alcohol to self-medicate. When he was sober, Goldstein said, Batty was a good person.

“Alcohol and (Batty) don’t mix,” Goldstein said. “There were no problems with his parole until he started drinking. And so when he says he was in an alcoholic blackout, I think you should believe it. He was drunk when the police came over and he was drunk when he was at the station giving his statement.”

Because of that, Costin said, the details of Webster’s final moments probably will never be known.

“I don’t buy it,” Costin said. “I don’t care how much he had to drink. He did not black out the vicious attack on Tonya. He did not black out … murdering her.”

Batty did little during the hearing. He faced Kerns at Goldstein’s side, his hands clasped behind his back, and when the judge asked if he had anything to say, Batty declined to speak.

“Regardless of whether (Batty) recalls the events of that evening, what is obvious is what happened to Ms. Webster was beyond brutal,” Kerns said. “When he elected to forego sobriety, he paved the path for Ms. Webster’s death, and that’s very clear to me.”

Still, Kerns was not emotionless when he handed down the harshest sentence possible. He recalled the last time he sentenced Batty to prison in 2011 for second-degree assault.

“Frankly, Mr. Batty, I wish it was otherwise,” Kerns said. “When I sentenced you (to eight years in prison before) … I wanted to give you an opportunity.”

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.

Now more than ever, your financial support is critical to help us keep our communities informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having on our residents and businesses. Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference.

Your donation will be used exclusively to support quality, local journalism.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User