The state Supreme Court has ordered a new trial for a man convicted as an accomplice in the 2009 robbery and murder of a Loomis armored car driver at a Lakewood Walmart, saying a Pierce County prosecutor’s “egregious misconduct” prejudiced the jury.
The unanimous justices, in three separate opinions, concluded a deputy prosecutor’s PowerPoint show during closing arguments in the trial of Odies Delandus Walker was prejudicial and that the prosecutor — who is not named in the opinion — “appealed to the passion and prejudice” of the jury.
In a concurring opinion, Justice Gordon McCloud said some of the slides were “inflammatory and prejudicial because they highlighted the defendant’s race” — Allen is black — when race played no part in the crime.
“We cannot conclude with any confidence that Walker’s convictions were the result of a fair trial,” wrote Justice Mary Yu in the lead opinion. The court overturned all of his convictions and sent the case back to Pierce County.
Allen went to trial in March 2011 and, during closing arguments, prosecutors showed the jury a PowerPoint presentation to sum up their case in which to more than 100 of the 250 slides bore the headline “Defendant Walker Guilty of Premeditated Murder.” The words “Guilty” were superimposed over his face in a mug shot.
And the justices said the prosecution invoked “passion and prejudice” by juxtaposing pictures of the victim with photos of Walker and his family.
Walker was serving a life sentence.
It’s the second time in eight days that the justices have overturned a major first-degree murder conviction out of Pierce County for prejudicial statements by prosecutors.
Last Thursday, the justices ordered a new trial for Darcus Allen, who was convicted and sentenced to 420 years in prison as the getaway driver for Maurice Clemmons, who killed four Lakewood police officers in 2009. The unanimous court in that case found the prosecutor repeatedly misstated the law.
Walker was convicted as an accomplice of first-degree murder, first-degree robbery, solicitation and conspiracy in connection with the June 2009 robbery. The Loomis guard, Kurt Husted, was shot in the face while transporting a bag of receipts from the Walmart to an armored truck in the parking lot. The robbers took a large bag and fled.
According to court documents and news reports, Walker’s girlfriend was a manager at the Walmart and had told him and another man, Walker’s cousin Calvin Finley, that she knew that hundreds of thousands of dollars in receipts were often transported by the armored car.
Finley, Walker and another man planned the robbery, and Finley shot the guard, according to court testimony and documents.
The girlfriend, Tonie Williams-Irby, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and robbery charges. Finley pleaded guilty to aggravated murder and is serving a life sentence. A third man, Marshawn Turpin, pleaded guilty to murder, assault and robbery charges.
Walker and Williams-Irby reportedly went on a shopping spree after the robbery and spent $175 for dinner at a Red Lobster restaurant. When they were arrested, police found $20,000 in a safe in their home.