July 10, 2013 Updated: July 11, 2013 at 9:58 am
Otto J. Pobanz III declared his innocence on Wednesday through a video screen, speaking with The Gazette from the El Paso County jail, in an exclusive interview.
Pobanz is the main suspect in the June 24 homicide of William Walsh, for which he faces first-degree murder charges and is being held without bond.
Saying he has no knowledge of how Colorado Springs police linked him to the fatal shooting, Pobanz said he was nowhere near East Bijou Street, where Walsh was last seen, the night of his death. He said he was in north Colorado Springs, where police located and arrested him.
When asked about the second suspect, a 16-year-old male whose identity has not been released by police, Pobanz said the minor was in no way involved in the murder and declined to give his name. The juvenile, Pobanz vouched, also was not in the area.
Because of visitation rules at the jail no recording devices or notebooks are allowed. Thus, no direct quotes from Pobanz appear in this story. During the 30-minute interview, Pobanz admitted to having drug and anger issues, for which he said he has sought help. He repeatedly spoke of his love for Samantha Walsh, the victim's widow, with whom he's had an on-and-off relationship for a decade.
"He's not an evil person," Samantha Walsh said. "What was done was wrong, but in his mind, he's justified."
Walsh spoke with The Gazette in a separate phone interview, stating that she couldn't give details of what she knew about the events of June 24, but insisted she unconditionally supported Pobanz.
"William wasn't innocent in this whole situation," Walsh said. "Eventually all the details will come to light."
Samantha and William were married in December 2008 and separated in May 2009, sharing custody of their 6-year-old daughter, Jade. William was not the father of her infant son, Hunter, as previously reported.
Samantha, William and Pobanz attended Wasson High School, but all parties claim the two men barely knew each other. Pobanz said they had met in passing a few times and that there had never been bad blood between them.
Anthony Ramsey, the victim's cousin, said the first time he ever saw Pobanz was when police released his mug shot.
"As far as I know, Billy and Otto had very little contact with each other," Ramsey said. "Everyone in the family knew of him because Samantha was with him, but we never met him."
William's family is still recovering from the shock, Ramsey said. They are waiting for answers and most of all, justice.
Hesitant to reveal details that may affect the police investigation or Otto's eventual prosecution, Ramsey did not elaborate about what family may know about happened the night of William Walsh's death.
"The last person to see him was his mother, Gena, around 1 a.m. when she went to work," Ramsey said. "He wasn't feeling very well, so he stayed at her apartment."
Referring to home and family as sacred, Pobanz told The Gazette he would never take those away from anyone, saying he had been homeless since age 13. He said he has struggled with marijuana, methamphetamine and heroine use for several years, a cause of problems in his relationship with Samantha Walsh.
"Sometimes his anger does escalate and I have been frightened," Samantha said, referring to an argument on June 8 between she and Pobanz that escalated and resulted in a protection order being issued. "But he really has tried to work through his problems."
For now, Pobanz said he remains calm and patiently awaits his next day in court, scheduled for Friday. Confident in his innocence, he said he plans to beat the case, get out of jail and go back to his life with Samantha Walsh.