ALBANY – The anguish from the loss her son Eric in April 1998 will never fully subside for Cherie Walber, but she has managed to pull forward in life.
She had no other choice, she said.
“I had my kids who needed me, and I had to do it for them,” Walber said in an interview one day after one of the six suspects admitted to killing Eric in a carjacking that led to a beating and murder.
“It was tough on the entire family,” she said. “We lost our home, I lost a job and we’ll forever feel a void from his loss.”
Eric was the second oldest of five kids for George and Cherie Walber.
The loss was particularly tough his younger brother Luke and for the twins Sara and Laura – the youngest of the Walber children – who were very close to Eric.
She described him as an ideal older brother.
“It took them a very long time to get through this,” she said. “They always looked up to him, which made it much harder on them when we lost him.”
It was also tough on her husband George, who died in 2008.
“He never could get over Eric’s death,” she said. “George couldn’t live without him, and eventually it killed him.”
Michael Wearry, whose death sentence was overturned by the U.S Supreme Court in 2016, was sentenced to 25 years of hard labor on a charge reduced from first-degree murder to manslaughter.
Despite the reduced sentence – which could lead to his release in five years – Walber said the hearing Dec. 26 brought her some sense of closure.
“I had always suspected he did it, from the time of the arrest in 2000,” she said. “Just having an admission clears my mind to some degree.”
Cherie Walber now works for the state and has found as much stability as she could want after the loss.
The reduced sentence and the long span before a suspect admitted to the killing did not diminish Walber’s faith in the judicial system.
“I think they did all they could, and I’m satisfied with that,” she said. “I know (21st Judicial District Attorney) Scott Perrilloux did everything he could to bring this to closure, just as I know law enforcement did all it to find the suspects, so I appreciate all they did for us.
“Nothing will every bring back Eric, but we’re satisfied,” Walber said.