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Mar-03-2008 10:44printcommentsVideo

African-American Student's Manslaughter Appeal Will Test Oregon's Justice System (VIDEO)

Did Oregon Wrongly Convict a young man through lazy police work?

Darrell Sky Walker
Darrell Sky Walker was convicted in the death of Phillp Gillins, but his mother says Eugene Police failed to locate witnesses that could have cleared her son.

(EUGENE, Ore.) - A case scheduled to be heard in front of an appeals court in Salem on March 13th, may be a real test of the Oregon justice system's ability to discern accurate police work from a botched investigation. The outcome of it could ultimately speak volumes about the direction Oregon courts in detached areas take in skirting obligations to fully investigate cases.

According to Attorney Ted Vosk who is visiting from Washington state to represent Darrell Sky Walker, the case will examine the motivations of the District Attorney's office in Lane County, Oregon. Vosk says they are quick to judge and convict, but it means little and is a disservice to the citizens of a state when the wrong man is sought out and prosecuted.

For their part, the state of Oregon and the Lane prosecutor's office are sticking to their case, asserting that a correct verdict in the case was reached by a jury of Walker's peers.

Alesia Walker of Riverside, California, the mother of Darrell Walker, says her son was wrongly convicted by a system that failed to turn up key witnesses who could have cleared him.

We reported this week in another story that a cold case squad in Clackamas, Oregon is upgrading their Website. In Marion County, not one but two historic murder cases have been resolved recently. That according to one of Marion County's top law enforcement officials, is because people make statements to police based in alliances and relationships that change.

The attorney representing Walker says that in a similar way, this case is one where lies and deceit on the part of witnesses play a huge factor.

Vosk says that very issue will take center stage on March 13th as well, as his team has discovered that the jury asked for the testimony of the very person who probably could have kept Walker from ever being convicted.

A tragic event

The tragic events that led to the 2005 death of 22-year old college student Phillip Gillins in Eugene, began with a racial slur.

He says the incident happened started as Walker and two of his friends, J.D. Beall and Ryan Joyce, were walking near Taylor’s Bar in Eugene. According to reports, two men standing nearby yelled racial slurs toward the two white men accompanying Walker, who is black.

The racial slurs led to a fight, and during the fight Phillip Gillins was struck to the ground. Several witnesses reported that J.D. Beall bragged about the knockout punch, but then ceased the boasting four days later, when Phillip Gillins died in the hospital from injuries he suffered in the fight.

Over the course of a year, Eugene Police say they tried but were unable to contact Walker’s friend Ryan Joyce. But when Sterling Alexander of the NAACP set out to locate him, he found Joyce in the first four hours, the first time he tried.

Vosk says the testimony of this witness is vital to the case.

"All the defendant's mother wants is for her so to have a fair trial. She has stated repeatedly that she has no problem with her son serving time if he is convicted with fairness. She says that while she believes in her son's innocence, that is not the point. She just wants to see him have a fair and impartial trial," he said.

And Vosk says there is no doubt in his mind, that Darrell Sky Walker was wrongly convicted and that the person responsible for the death of that student has been walking the streets freely since the conviction of this African-American.

Walker’s appeal is based on the grounds of newly discovered evidence. Voss says the first is the testimony of Ryan Joyce. The second is, statements by Ryan Joyce made both prior and subsequent to Defendant’s trial which were overheard by Jordan Holliday.

He says that statement involved Ryan volunteering that he felt bad about letting Waslker "take the rap" for JD…Ryan. He apparently said he was trying to get JD to turn himself in but JD "wasn’t having any part of it."

The video accompanying this article was actually produced in June, 2006, but it seems valid in respect to the fact that little has changed for Darrell Sky Walker and his mother who is not backing off in her support of her son.


Comments Leave a comment on this story.

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David November 2, 2012 11:42 pm (Pacific time)

I know both of the witnesses who testified against walker. I can tell you both have no doubt who through the punch that killed phil. You can blame this all you want on racism, but what benefit is there for the witnesses to testify against the wrong person? I was at the trial and they both testified it was the "black man with no shirt on". J.D and th Ryan are both white and how anyone could believe that anyone could misconstrue the two is absurd! And by the way, the court made every atttempt to locate both J.D. and Ryan but neither could be found, nor did the volunteer themselves. There is no doubt in my mind that Walker is the guilty man. The idea that it would be easier to locate a black man is ridiculous. They knew exactly who all the parties were and their color made no difference. In addition, Walker fled the state when he realized phil died (sounds like an innocent man). Neither Crider nor Boulis had anything to gain by testifying against the wrong man and both identified all the parties involved. If they saw a white man punch phil, that is what they would have told court, but that is not the case. Wake up and realize this was not a case about race, but one based on evidence. Hes lucky he only got 6 years.

Thomas March 5, 2011 9:56 am (Pacific time)

Darrell could just have easily been the one to kill Phillip. They walk around with their shirts off, and a chip on their shoulder the big town gangsters in Eugene. I have no mercy for Darrell or the other inhuman piece of garbage. Phillip was a kind, gentle young man.

Editor: Really nice of you to drop by and share some hatred Thomas without a last name.  Your comment makes me sick; you sound like what you describe and the notion of disregarding a wrongful conviction is absurd.  Who are 'they' anyway?  Disrespectful white trash who writes the kind of crap you spread?  I'll bet Phillip is as pissed off as Darrel or anyone else because he knows what happened, and the wrong man was convicted by a racist court in a racist state where racists like you live.  Your opinion means exactly shit.  Hope you are glad to bring this disrespectful crap to a story like this, I can tell you really had a lot of respect for Phillip, yeah right. 

Brian December 3, 2010 8:20 pm (Pacific time)


No, I had no idea what type of family that the boy who died is from, and it shouldn't matter. Nor should it make a difference what type of family the person who killed him is from.
While I agree with you that no one life is more important than another in general terms, I disagree when we are discussing lives that have been taken. There is no excuse for this kind of violence.
In reference to how I would feel about serving time for a crime I did not commit; I'm sure it would be terrible. However, this man has been in jail for several years now and it appears that he will finish the sentence. In order for someone to be convicted of murder/manslaughter it must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt... and this is where I find flaw in (not only this report) but some other reports that I've read on this case. The article makes it seem as though he is innocent based on hearsay. Now, I was not at the trial, but I would venture to say that hearsay did not convict him. I suppose what it boils down to is that we should not be this subjective when talking about these issues based on personal beliefs of race... which seems to be what this case has unfortunately become due to the nature of the origin of the fight.

Brian, you have too much faith.  None of what you said holds in a kangaroo court system.  Look, I know you are making a good solid point, I am not trying to completely take it apart.  I think the travesty is a false conviction; Walker is still alive.  At any rate, best to you...

Brian December 3, 2010 2:22 pm (Pacific time)

@ Tim King:

Tim, if you have the facts that you claim to have, why is this man still in jail?
I do not suggest that a man who was an innocent passerby is guilty just by being at the scene of a crime. Obviously none of the people who were there that night and in that fight fit this description. I am not claiming that Darrell or anyone else who was there is guilty. I don't know because I wasn't there. However, Tim, the fact remains that someone is dead... open your own mind to the reality of what the family of this young man may be going through!
At least for the other people involved in the fight, guilty or not, they are not dead.
Additionally, whether Darrell's aunt is a nice woman or not has absolutely nothing to do with the dead kid lying on the street. I'm sure he must have know someone nice in his life as well.

Tim King: Brian, I believe you are making a sincere point but I simply fall back to, how would you or I feel about serving time for a crime we didn't commit?  You actually sound like you believe 'someone' should pay because the poor kid who died is from a privileged family, is that your point?  No one life in this story is more important than another, that guy Buddy Beal needs to be investigated for this, I can't explain why or how Walker was ever convicted, I certainly can't explain why this just-us system operates the way it does.

Brian November 20, 2010 9:44 am (Pacific time)

It's sad that the murder of a human being has turned into a black/white issue. If the kid who died instigated a retaliation, in the very least it should not have been a physical retaliation. Just because Phillip Gillins may have made racially derogatory comments does not give the three people who killed him the right to kill. Darrell Sky Walker may not have been the person who threw the fatal punch but he was there and he saw who did it. I find it incredibly difficult to believe that a Lane County Jury would convict only one of the three involved if they could have convicted all three. Lane County is quite possibly one of the more open minded places you will find on the planet... that said, I'm not sure our planet is very open-minded to begin with.

Tim King: No way Brian, I wish you were right.  The Eugene Police had the killer's information and they did not seek him out.  Lane County is possibly the most dangerous county in all of Oregon for African-Americans and I speak from research and facts.  So do you suggest that a man who didn't kill another man is still guilty because he was simply there?  I suspect you would feel differently if you were Darrel Sky Walker.  I can also tell you that his mother and other family members like his aunt, are the kindest people I have ever met, I suspect he is similar.  Open your mind to the unpleasant possibilities, please..  

Jason Brooks August 1, 2010 8:35 pm (Pacific time)

I know Darrell Skye walker personally and was their the night of the fight..... and I know who did it and so does half of the town! It was Jd beall. Who used to be be one of my good friends. He told everyone that he did it. I even gave a statement and was on the news telling my story but never got to testify in court for whatever reason! Oh yeah they told me I wasn't a credible witness. Bullsh*t! They just new if they said it was a white boy 6"2 and black hair they would of been lookin for half tha town, so they pinned it on the black guy from cali with the lip peircing and tattoo's on his chest. Way easier to find right. This is all bullsh*t and my friend has been in jail for 4 years cause we have a lame ass system in this racist f*kn town......

Tim King to Jason: I followed this story, I know Darrell's mom, please drop me an email:

Mr. Angry February 6, 2010 7:12 pm (Pacific time)

What pisses Me off is that everyone that comments is mad about Darrell Walker getting 6 years for man slaughter. I think at a minimum the Three guys invoved in the attack on philip should get 6 years the main instigator should have gotten 20 years for manslaughter. On the same day that "Darrell Sky Walker" was sentenced so was a "Darnelle Pendergrass" only Darnelle was sentenced to 10 years for attempting to rip of a medical marijuana dealer.. Darnell didn't harm anyone in his stupid venture and he only pleaded guilty so that he could have possiblity for parole and now the father of three will be getting out of prison 4 years after a guy who was apart of a beating that killed some one.. Awsome work Oregon...

Ms. SA May 6, 2009 8:02 am (Pacific time)

I know for a fact that he is innocent. He never laid a hand on the boy that died. But when faced with a racist state, town, judge, jury, etc., what would you expect. It really has to be understood that white people, regardless of the situation, is always willing to lie, steal, or cheat for each other period. Nothing else to be said. It has nothing to do with right or wrong. All they know is a n****r is in jail, because a white boy was killed. It does not matter if his mother or father killed him, just a long a black man is in jail. If you think you can change it, let me know.

LUCILLE March 5, 2008 10:50 am (Pacific time)


TT Clark March 4, 2008 11:48 pm (Pacific time)

Darrel Sky Walker did not have a fair trial and the juror was not of his peer the jurors maybe 1 0r 2 in their 30's and the rest were in their 50's if you call that his peers for a young 20 year oh my!!!! His so call friends was ok to plead the 5th when the whole town no Darryl did not commit this crime. Boulis stated he never took his eye off the person that struck his friend Gillian but never saw the fight between Cridder and Darryl go figure .... wow!!!!! I also been reading and following this trial

Dave March 4, 2008 8:09 am (Pacific time)

Putting someone on trial for "poor judgment," are you kidding me? But by all means, use this story about problems in the Lane County court system to bash OSU.

James March 4, 2008 6:38 am (Pacific time)

I am from Eugene and followed this case closely. The jury had more than enough facts to convict beyond a reasonable doubt. Certainly there have been many cases overturned, but what would have happened if that Iraqi war veteran would have died in similar fashion (sucker punch) by those OSU football player's a while back? I am still dumbfounded that they were not removed from the team. If it's proven this person was not entirely at fault, then I hope a retrial and/or a re-sentencing can take place. As far as what I consider a closely related case (white Iraqi war veteran with black wife criminally assaulted by black OSU football players) from Corvallis, the OSU football coach and athletic director should also have a trial as for their incredibly poor judgement for keeping these convicted criminals on the team at taxpayer expense.

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