Baby Chance’s mother to serve 25 years, testify against husband

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SARASOTA, Fla. – Kristen Bury, the mother of Chance Walsh, the newborn who was found buried in a remote wooded area in North Port in October, will serve 25 years in prison after she pleaded no contest to aggravated manslaughter.

Bury cried as she entered the no contest plea on Wednesday.

Bury, 32, was initially charged with homicide negligent manslaughter. With the plea deal, Bury will:

  • Be required to testify against her husband, Joseph Walsh, who is charged with second-degree murder.
  • Wave the statute of limitation and her right to a speedy trial.
  • Face additional charges if she refuses to testify or does not testify “truthfully and consistently.”

The couple’s inconsistent versions of what happened to Chance eventually led authorities to the baby’s body.

The couple said the baby died in an Oct. 2 vehicle wreck in South Carolina, then claimed Chance was given away to a stranger at a Georgia hotel prior to the crash.

Investigators said Chance died on Sept. 16 inside the couple’s Orduna Drive home in North Port, investigators said. Chance gasped for breath for hours after Walsh beat him, and eventually choked on a diaper wipe, an arrest report said.

Small amounts of blood were found on the bed pillows, comforter and mattress inside the home, the report said. Blood spatter was also found on the walls, door, mirror and light fixture in the bathroom.

Bury cried again as the details of the crime were read aloud in court.

The couple buried the baby several days after his death in a remote, wooded area about 13 miles from their residence, detectives said. Bury led authorities to his body, located at a gravesite near Elliot Court, on Oct. 15.

Detectives found a fragment of a blue surgical type glove, as well as the body of an infant covered only with a diaper.

It was Bury’s assistance that led to her plea deal, prosecutors said.

‘She’s a monster’

Sally Susino, Bury’s mother, pressed for her daughter to cooperate with authorities while Chance was missing.

On Wednesday, she cried as she watched her daughter receive a prison sentence.

“Kristen was not the product of a dysfunctional upbringing,” she said. “Sat down to family dinners. Led a beautiful, normal healthy childhood. No abuse, only love. Taught her right from wrong.” 

Things changed once she became an adult, Susino said.

“Made a series of bad choices and blamed them on everyone else,” she said. “Choosing drugs, stealing. Pushing everyone away. Had her first child adopted away in exchange for a car, even though the family wanted the child.” 

Bury divorced and went into rehab, Susino said. She became pregnant with Chance not long after meeting Joseph Walsh.

“Made the choice to let the defenseless baby die a horrible death,” she said. “Chose abusive husband.”

While she still loves her daughter, Susino was not remorseful of her actions.

She felt her daughter should’ve received more prison time.

“I hope she enjoys her new life,” she said.

John Murawski, Bury’s stepfather, said the case highlights the need for grandparents to have parental rights for their grandchildren.

He was also not remorseful of Bury’s prison sentence.

“Stood by, watched her baby die and did nothing to prevent it,” he said. “In my eyes, she’s a monster.”

Alleged drug use

About three weeks after Chance was born, the state Department of Children and Families received a tip that Bury was using drugs. The department said there was not enough evidence for an investigation because the caller didn’t have first hand knowledge of the drug abuse.

Six weeks later, Chance was beaten to death, authorities said.

“We failed,” DCF Director Mike Carroll said.

Bury told a relative she despised Chance because he was not Duane, her previous child who died two weeks after birth due to acute pyelonephritis, a severe kidney infection, according to a police report.

Sarasota County Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Russell Vega said the infection was the first he saw in an autopsy of an infant.

“At that time, our complete evaluation found essentially no significant injuries,” Vega told the Charlotte Sun in September.

Violent past

Before Walsh was arrested and charged in Chance’s death, DCF was well aware of his violent history, having taken multiple children from a previous marriage away from him.

By his mid-20s, Walsh was raising seven children with his first wife and becoming well known to law enforcement:

  • He was charged with aggravated assault and battery in 2002. The charges were later dropped.
  • He was charged with attempting to strangle his wife’s friend in 2004. Those charges were also dropped.
  • Walsh became a felon in 2006 after pleading guilty to aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Walsh was on drugs when he jumped onto a kitchen counter top, lunged at his mother-in-law and attacked her with a kitchen knife, according to court documents.
  • In 2007, Walsh was charged with assaulting his wife. Those charges were dropped.

In total, Walsh faced 11 charges, including threatening to put his wife in a body bag on three different occasions, according to court records. Nine of those charges were dropped.

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