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African-American Student's Manslaughter Appeal Will Test Oregon's Justice System (VIDEO)Tim King Salem-News.com
Did Oregon Wrongly Convict a young man through lazy police work?
(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.
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