Alleged accomplice of man who tried to rob ex-CNN personalities charged in death

Chuck de Caro and his wife, Lynne Russell

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A New Mexico man charged with conspiracy to commit felony murder allegedly provided a gun to a friend who died while trying to rob two former CNN on-air personalities, authorities said Thursday.

Tomorio Walton died June 30 after he was shot by former CNN correspondent Chuck de Caro in a room at a Motel 6 in Albuquerque during a break-in.

In an arrest warrant affidavit made public Thursday, Albuquerque police Det. Jodi Gonterman says a confidential informant told her that Skyy Durrell Barrs, 30, gave Walton a handgun and drove him to the motel to “hit some licks,” slang for committing a robbery.

“Tomorio’s death was caused by the actions of Skyy Barrs,” Gonterman wrote.

A silver handgun similar to the one described by the informant was found in the parking lot where Walton died after being shot, the affidavit says.

Gonterman says in the affidavit that surveillance video shows Walton approach former CNN Headline News anchor Lynne Russell, de Caro’s wife, in the parking lot. Russell has said Walton asked her whether she had a cigarette. She said she didn’t and went back in the room.

Walton, who was in violation of his parole in Tennessee, is seen on the video lurking in the breezeway. When Russell goes to the car and comes back with dog food, he grabs her, pushes her into the room and closes the door. Seven minutes pass.

When Walton reappears he has blood on the front of his shirt.

Another video shows Walton arrive in a black Chevy Malibu with three other people in the car. Walton and another man are seen later walking around in different areas while talking on their phones.

The confidential informant tells Gonterman that Barrs heard the gunshots and drove around the parking lot and found Walton covered in blood.

The source says Barrs held Walton and looked at him, then got in the car and fled.

The source identified the car, Barrs and his girlfriend, the affidavit says.

Authorities lodged multiple charges because, they say, Barrs was involved in the planning to rob the couple.

Barrs was charged Thursday with conspiracy to commit the following crimes: felony murder, kidnapping (two counts), armed robbery (two counts), aggravated battery, assault with intent to commit a violent felony, and aggravated burglary. Barrs is a former felon and also was charged with illegally possessing a gun, said Officer Tanner Tixier, a spokesman for Albuquerque police.

It was not clear whether he had an attorney.

Tixier described Walton as a “street slave,” meaning he would rob people in exchange for drugs.

De Caro, who worked at CNN in the mid-1980s as special assignments correspondent, was shot three times in the abdomen and also had a wound in one of his legs, police said.

He is still in a hospital, Tixier said.

“I am really proud of him,” Russell said several days after the shooting. “I thank him over and over for saving my life. He really is my hero.”

She has said the couple’s guns are legal. The affidavit says Russell told police they each have a concealed weapons carry permit and the shooting was self-defense.

Russell, who worked for Headline News (now HLN) from 1983 to 2001, said the couple was heading to California and, after stopping in Albuquerque to have dinner with friends, they decided to get a motel room. They chose Motel 6 because it allows dogs, she said.


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