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Murder charge for man police say forced 'slave' into ill-fated robbery of ex-CNN anchor

Former CNN reporter Lynne Russell's husband kills robber during wild motel shootout

 

It was self-defense when a former CNN anchor's husband shot an assailant dead in an attempted motel robbery last week, but the man police say put his "slave" up to the crime was charged Thursday with murder.

Albuquerque police charged Skyy Durrell Barrs, 30, with murder and other offenses in connection with the thwarted robbery at a Motel 6, in which Chuck de Caro traded shots with Tomorio Walton after Walton pushed his way into the room de Caro and wife Lynne Russell, a former television news anchor, were sharing. De Caro, who, like his wife, has a concealed-carry handgun permit, was shot three times, but is expected to recover, while Watson died shortly afterward at a hospital.

"Although Tomorio was shot by the robbery victim in self-defense, Tomorio's death was caused by the actions of Skyy Barrs for planning to "hit a lick" and providing Tomorio with a firearm."

- Criminal complaint

While the story was making national news, largely due to Russell's stature, Albuquerque police were learning that Walton allegedly acted on the orders of Barrs. A criminal complaint dated Wednesday cites a police informant who said Walton was one of Barrs' "slaves," and indicated that the dead man was forced to commit the robbery as Barrs waited outside.

"A guy named Skyy went with Tomorio, AKA "Memphis," to "hit a lick," slang term for committing a robbery," the complaint states." Although Tomorio was shot by the robbery victim in self-defense, Tomorio's death was caused by the actions of Skyy Barrs for planning to "hit a lick" and providing Tomorio with a firearm."

Russell said the couple and their dog were four days into a trip when they stopped at the motel on June 30. She said an armed man, later identified as Walton, was at their door when she returned from getting dog food from their car.

"He pushed me into the room, and that's when my husband came out of the shower and saw what was happening," Russell told KOB-TV. "We tried to calm him, confuse him and do everything we could do to just come out of it in one piece."

Walton took de Caro's briefcase before shooting at him. Both Russell and de Caro have concealed-carry weapons permits, and de Caro "fired back and it was a shootout," Russell said.

According to the complaint, Barrs provided Watson with the gun he used in the robbery attempt. Although the informant told police Barrs used Walton, "as one of his slaves," it was unclear why Walton was indebted to Barrs.

When Barrs heard the gunshots, he drove around the motel to find Walton lying in the parking lot, bleeding, according to police. When the source saw surveillance footage, he also implicated Barrs' girlfriend, who was allegedly sitting in the front seat of the getaway car.

Barrs is being held without bail in the Albuquerque jail. The circumstances of his arrest were not immediately clear.