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Walker guilty in slaying

November 30, 1999|By ROBERT SNYDER

MARTINSBURG, W.VA.

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

A jury of nine men and three women deliberated for little more than an hour and a half Wednesday before finding Roynal "Ronnie" Lee Walker guilty of first-degree murder in the March 23, 2005, shooting death of Arthur Doakes.

The first-degree murder conviction without mercy means Walker, 48, will not be eligible for parole.

After the verdict was read and the jury had left, Walker took the stand to express his remorse for the shooting.

"From the bottom of my heart, Mrs. Doakes, I'm sorry for what happened," Walker told the victim's mother, Mary Doakes, who minutes later hurled a stream of invectives at her son's killer.

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"I see no remorse in you, and I'm sorry, I hope you burn in hell," she said after reading from a brief prepared statement.

In reaching its verdict, jurors rejected the argument presented by Walker's defense attorney, Heidi Myers, who said that Walker fired the gun in self-defense and out of fear of harm.

The jury heard testimony Tuesday from several witnesses, including county law enforcement officers, a ballistics and forensics expert, and two eyewitnesses who had accompanied Doakes, 39, to Walker's house.

Only two people were called to the Berkeley County Circuit Court witness stand Wednesday ? a Veterans Affairs Medical Center police officer who said he arrived on the scene before Berkeley County sheriff's deputies and a woman who said she had been staying with Walker the night of the slaying.

Marina Hostler, 21, of Tennessee, told jurors she had been staying with Walker at his apartment for several hours when Doakes arrived around midnight and began to bang on Walker's front door. Hostler said she heard three shots fired soon after Walker told her he was going to shoot Doakes.

She immediately fled the scene, she said.

"I said, 'I can't believe you did that' and I jumped in my car and left," Hostler testified under questioning by Berkeley County Prosecutor Pamela Games-Neely.

Myers, who said information was missing from the case like the lost piece of a jigsaw puzzle, told jurors that all they knew was that Walker shot someone who had come to his house and had begun banging on his front door.

"Keep in mind, it's midnight and someone is banging at your door, and you do have the right to protect yourself," Myers said, challenging the testimony of witnesses and asserting that Berkeley County sheriff's deputies failed to investigate Walker's account of having been robbed earlier.

"Sometimes, stories are exactly as they appear, but sometimes they require more looking," Myers said.

Games-Neely told jurors that Walker's case was as clear-cut as any they would likely see.

It was cold-blooded murder, said Games-Neely, who told jurors that by leveling a gun at Doakes, Walker became the aggressor.

"All he had to do that night was not open the door. Roynal Walker made the choice to take Arthur Doakes' life," Games-Neely said. "Arthur Doakes is dead because of the choice that he (Walker) made."

Games-Neely, who finished her argument by holding aloft the .22-caliber long rifle pistol that witnesses and experts said was used to kill Doakes, said Walker could have remained indoors and shouted for Doakes to leave, or called 911 for help, instead of stepping outside to shoot him.

"This is the choice he made. This is first-degree murder because this is the choice that night," Games-Neely said.

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