59°F
weather icon Partly Cloudy

Family of Las Vegas woman killed in Dec. 30 crash wants justice

Updated January 13, 2020 - 8:57 pm

Gilma Rodriguez-Walters knew how hard it was to get ahead in the United States.

The 53-year-old Las Vegas woman came to America from El Salvador as a single mom when she was 19. She worked in a factory in California, then at McDonald’s for many years, then for two decades at Home Depot.

All that work, her three daughters said Monday, was part of a bigger purpose: providing a future for her children.

“My mom wanted the American dream,” said daughter Ruth Neall.

“She always wanted more for us,” said daughter Andrea Lopez. “The big thing for her was to go to school, get your education, go do something. She didn’t want us to have to work so many jobs like she did.”

On Dec. 30, Rodriguez-Walters was killed in a car crash that Las Vegas police said was caused by an intoxicated motorist driving recklessly. Authorities said Rodriguez-Walters was driving home from her job at Home Depot. She was just a couple of blocks away from her residence when, police said, her car was struck on Tropical Parkway by a vehicle driven by Marsha Stewart Byrd, 61, of Las Vegas.

She faces felony charges of reckless driving and DUI causing death. Police said that just prior to the crash, witnesses saw Stewart Byrd passing traffic on the shoulder of Tropical Parkway at high speed. Police said that when Stewart Byrd tried to get back on the road, she went into the opposing lane and hit Rodriguez-Walters.

Stewart Byrd since has posted bail as her case proceeds through Las Vegas Justice Court. Online court records indicate that on Jan. 7 she was declared indigent and that Deputy Public Defender Xiomara Bonaventure was appointed to represent her. Bonaventure could not be reached for comment Monday.

A preliminary hearing for Stewart Byrd is scheduled for Feb. 26.

‘We saw the struggle’

Rodriguez-Walters’ daughters said Monday that the pain of losing their mother is immeasurable. Their mother, they said, was finally seeing all her hard work pay off. She was a homeowner. She’d married the love of her life, Levi Walters. She also saw all three of her daughters obtain college degrees.

“I’m glad I let her know how much we appreciated her and the sacrifices she made,” Neall said. “I remember my mom working two jobs. I remember her job at McDonald’s. She was at McDonald’s for years. She ended up being a single mom to three girls, and trying to do that on her own was difficult.”

Daughter Mariela Amaro said there were many life lessons learned from her mother’s perseverance through the tough times.

“We lived through it,” Amaro said. “We saw the struggle. We learned to persevere through all the things we saw my mom go through. So we knew, ‘Just keep going. Keep your head up.’”

She said her mother couldn’t finish college, so all of her daughters did.

“It was so important to her,” Amaro said. “She was so proud. In her house she has all of our graduation stuff all over her house.”

In fact, she said, her mother acknowledged any accomplishment and remembered it.

Seeking justice

The family wants to see justice done in the criminal case. Neall noted that the Clark County district attorney’s office has charged some defendants in fatal DUI cases involving deaths with second-degree murder, a charge she believes is warranted in the crash that killed her mother. The daughters also said they were disappointed that Stewart Byrd had posted bond and is free.

“It is so hard for me to feel hate for anyone,” Neall said. “I don’t hate anyone. I am disappointed. I am still in a state of disbelief. I’m still numb.”

A GoFundMe account is set up to help Rodriguez-Walters’ family “cope with the financial weight of her sudden loss.” Money raised, according to the family, will help with legal fees and “settling Gilma’s final expenses.”

The family also hopes that Las Vegans will take to heart the tragedy that can result from driving under the influence and do everything possible to combat the problem.

“My mom didn’t deserve this. My mom had a long time left to live,” Amaro said. “It is terrible to have to tell your children, ‘Your grandma is not going to be around anymore.’”

Contact Glenn Puit at gpuit@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0390. Follow @GlennatRJ on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Crime Videos
Elderly woman robbed in Fremont elevator - VIDEO
An elderly woman was robbed in an elevator on the 300 block of Fremont Street. Video courtesy of Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. (James Schaeffer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bail set at $300K for suspect in Las Vegas credit union shooting
William Cass Jackson who authorities said shot his mother three times before firing at police at a credit union in southwest Las Vegas was ordered held on $300,000 bail on Thursday.
Police update on shooting at Las Vegas credit union - VIDEO
Las Vegas police Capt. Nichole Splinter gives an update of officer-involved shooting at Navy Federal Credit Union, 6975 Spring Mountain Road, near Rainbow Boulevard, on Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas police investigate officer-involved shooting - VIDEO
Las Vegas police brief the media on an officer-involved shooting in the 6900 block of Spring Mountain, Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Witnesses discuss officer-involved shooting in Las Vegas - VIDEO
Witnesses discuss what they saw during a shooting involving Las Vegas police on Spring Mountain Road near Rainbow Boulevard, Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020. (Glen Puit/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Store clerk shoots assailant after stabbing - VIDEO
North Las Vegas police say a 7-Eleven store clerk, who was stabbed by an attacker, pulled out a firearm and shot the individual in the store's parking lot early Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020. (Glenn Puit/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The car that Tupac was shot in is for sale - VIDEO
The vehicle that legendary rapper Tupac Shakur was riding in when he was shot after a boxing match in Las Vegas is up for auction. The black 1996 BMW 7 Series is listed by Celebrity Cars Las Vegas for $1.75 million. (Angus Kelly/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nye County deputy dragged by Las Vegas man driving stolen vehicle - VIDEO
A Las Vegas man was taken into custody after dragging a Nye County officer while in a stolen vehicle, and then leading police in a pursuit. (Nye County Sheriff's Office)
Margaret Rudin's first interview after release from prison
Convicted killer Margaret Rudin maintains her innocence in her first interview after spending 20 years in a Las Vegas prison for the murder of her husband, Ron Rudin.
Convicted killer Margaret Rudin is released from prison - VIDEO
Greg Mullanax, attorney for Margaret Rudin, makes a statement to the press after Rudin's release from prison. She served 20 years for killing her husband. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Women accused of high-heel attack at Cosmopolitan - VIDEO
Prosecutors agreed to drop felony charges Thursday against four Utah sisters accused of storming into a penthouse suite at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas and attacking one woman’s estranged husband and his girlfriend with fists and high-heeled shoes. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bayzle Morgan Sentenced To 44 Years To Life - Video
A man with neo-Nazi tattoos on his face who pleaded guilty to killing a 75-year-old woman in her Las Vegas home in 2013 was sentenced Thursday to at least 44 years behind bars.
I-15 northbound lanes remain closed at Nevada-California stateline - VIDEO
A fatal officer-involved shooting occurred late Wednesday afternoon involving California law enforcement. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas bus attack caught on video
Video released Metro shows two men talking on a bus on Dec. 13, 2019. A few seconds into the video, the younger man stands up and punches the older man in the face. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
North Las Vegas police release details of first fatal officer-involved shooting of 2020 - VIDEO
North Las Vegas Police Chief Pamela Ojeda discusses details of the departments first fatal officer-involved shooting for 2020. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas police release details of first officer involved shooting of 2020 - VIDEO
Assistant Sheriff Brett Zimmerman meets with the media to discuss additional details of the January 2, 2020, officer-involved shooting that occurred at 4051 W. Viking Road. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Body found in vacant lot in Las Vegas ruled a homicide - VIDEO
Las Vegas police homicide detectives investigate what is described as a suspicious death in northeast Las Vegas, Monday, Jan. 6, 2020. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
$50K bail set for suspect in attack on girlfriend seen on video - Video
A judge set bail at $50,000 on Friday for a man accused of beating and kidnapping his girlfriend in an act caught on a home surveillance video. Darnell Rodgers, 23, was arrested early Thursday morning, hours after the Metropolitan Police Department released the video in which a woman was seen crying while she ran to a house screaming for help near Warm Springs Road and the 215 Beltway.
Metro detectives seeking help identifying kidnapping victim and suspect - VIDEO
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department detectives are seeking help in identifying a kidnapping victim and suspect. (James Schaeffer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Wrong-way driver on Las Vegas Blvd
Nevada troopers stop a wrong-way driver on Las Vegas Boulevard on Dec. 31, 2019. (@NHPSouthernComm/Twitter)
Woman fatally shot man during attempted burglary
A homeowner in a residential area near Warm Springs Road and Spencer Street shot a man who had broken into her home on Saturday, December 28, 2019. The man, who was in his 30s, died at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center. (Katelyn Newberg/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Man critically wounded in Las Vegas bus stop shooting - VIDEO
A man was in critical condition Friday afternoon after he was shot at a bus stop on Boulder Highway in southeast Las Vegas, police said. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Margaret Rudin Expected to be Released on Parole - Video
The scheduled release from prison of a woman convicted of killing her millionaire husband in Las Vegas a quarter-century ago seems imminent pending approval of a parole plan.
New Summerlin Metro substation opens in January - VIDEO
A new Metropolitan Police Department substation will be opening in the Summerlin area. New in-house detective squads, "flex squads" and more police availability in the Summerlin area are some of the new features of the substation. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal / Summerlin Area Command)
East Tropicana road rage shooting
Las Vegas police brief the media on a shooting in a Walmart parking lot on East Tropicana Blvd. (Glenn Puit/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Henderson officer-involved shooting body cams - VIDEO
Henderson police department video shows body cameras from three officers during an officer-involved shooting on Dec. 10, 2019, in front of the Bourbon Street Sports Bar at North Major Avenue and Boulder Highway. (Henderson Police Department)
Veteran reacts to Buddhist temple fire started by arsonist - VIDEO
Veteran James Smales visited the Thai Buddhist Temple- Las Vegas, Wat Buddha Pavana, in North Las Vegas on Tuesday, Dec. 17, to see the extent of the damage to the temple after a fire started by the arsonist on Sunday night. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pedestrian struck, killed in east Las Vegas - VIDEO
A pedestrian is dead after being struck by a vehicle that ran a red light Sunday afternoon in the east valley, Las Vegas police said. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas police assisted by cowboys
Video shows cowboys helping Las Vegas police corral a suspected carjacker at Horseman's Park in Las Vegas on Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. (Cayden Cox)
Cowboys help Las Vegas police
Cowboys at Horseman's Park help Metro apprehend a suspected carjacker on Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. (Colton Payne/Facebook)
Police briefing on officer-involved shooting in Henderson - VIDEO
Henderson police were called to a disturbance at the Bourbon Street Sports Bar at Major Avenue and Boulder Highway early Tuesday morning, Dec. 10, 2019, where officers shot a suspect armed a knife. (Glenn Puit/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Henderson police release body camera footage of officer-involved shooting - VIDEO
On Monday, Dec. 9, 2019, the Henderson Police Department released 911 audio and body camera footage from a fatal officer-involved shooting on Nov. 20. (Henderson Police Department)
Press Conference with NHP for I-15 Southbound Crash
Two people are dead following a “catastrophic” crash involving a wrong-way driver Thursday night on Interstate 15 south of Las Vegas. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Homicide Pecos and Washington
Metro Homicide Lt. Ray Spencer talks about an investigation into a man's death at an east Las Vegas apartment complex on Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019. (Glenn Puit/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas police tend to man shot and wounded on McCarran tarmac - VIDEO
A man is in surgery after being shot by a Metro police officer on the tarmac at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas early Thursday. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Man charged in model's death to be released under house arrest - Video
Christopher Prestipino, who has been charged in the death of Esmeralda Gonzalez, has posted $500,000 bail. District Judge Douglas Herndon confirmed on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019, that Prestipino should be released on house arrest while he awaits trial. (Nathan Asselin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Casandra Garrett appears in court over model's death - Video
Casandra Garrett was in court on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019, in Las Vegas after she was extradited from Wisconsin. She is facing charges in connection with the slaying of Esmeralda Gonzalez, a 24-year-old model whose body was found encased in concrete in October. (Nathan Asselin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bodycam footage of Henderson Police Officers in Fatal Shooting of Mother - Video
Bodycam footage from an officer-involved shooting where the officers a 7-year-old male juvenile with apparent stab wounds and an agitated adult female.
3 more arrested, accused of abuse at east Las Vegas group home - Video
Three more people were arrested in connection with an unlicensed group home in the east valley that authorities first raided in September, police said Thursday. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Christopher Prestipino pleads not guilty to all charges - VIDEO
Christopher Prestipino of Las Vegas pleaded not guilty Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019, to charges in the slaying of Esmeralda Gonzalez, a 24-year-old model, whose body authorities said was found encased in concrete. (Angus Kelly/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bail hearing for Christopher Prestipino and Lisa Mort - Video
A bail hearing and court appearance for Christopher Prestipino and Lisa Mort who are charged in connection with the death of Esmeralda Gonzalez, Oct. 22, 2019. (Nathan Asselin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
THE LATEST
Judicial races crowded with more than 100 candidates

Judicial candidates, family, friends, colleagues and at least one campaign manager huddled around a row of monitors inside the Clark County Government Center as the clock crept toward 5 p.m. on Friday.