As Anthony Walker’s trial began Tuesday in a 2012 triple homicide, the prosecution and defense agreed on key facts.
The weapon used in the killing, a .40-caliber handgun, belonged to Walker. He was at the Kansas City home where three victims lay dead. And he stole items, including a gallon-size bag of marijuana, from the house.
But the defense argued that Walker didn’t kill a mother and son, along with a neighbor, on Jan. 15, 2012, at their home in the 3900 block of the Paseo. Prosecutors say he did.
Among the evidence to be presented in Jackson County court this week are footprints, shell casings, DNA and about 20 witnesses, including a few convicted felons who will testify in hopes of leniency, according to prosecutors.
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Walker, 50, is accused of killing Herschel Pike, 41; his mother, Donna Pike, 62; and an acquaintance, Edward Williams, 57, who interrupted the crime and was shot in front of the house.
On Tuesday, Jackson County Assistant Prosecutor Jeremy Baldwin said Herschel Pike was a “small-time drug dealer” who was sitting in his favorite living room chair when he was shot in the back of the head by Walker, who proceeded to kill Pike’s mother in her bed and then Williams, who was drawn to the house by the woman’s screams.
“These crimes are as vile as one can commit,” Baldwin told the jury. “This was an execution-style triple homicide.”
Walker is charged with three counts of first-degree murder, three counts of armed criminal action and burglary. He was arrested soon after the killings, having sold a .40-caliber handgun — which Walker’s defense attorney agreed is the gun from the shooting — to a police informant.
On Tuesday, Walker’s defense attorney, Curtis Winegarner, offered an alternate theory: that Walker, a few days before the killings, had lent the gun to another man and then retrieved it after the deaths. He then unwittingly sold the gun to the same man who was acting as a police informant.
The night of the killings, Winegarner said, Walker had gone with his nephew to Pike’s house to buy marijuana but found the three victims dead. Instead of calling police, they searched the house for valuables to steal.
“This is a point where Mr. Walker is going to be revealed to you as a person who doesn’t think the way you and I do,” Winegarner said. “These men did not send for help. They did not report this. These men did try to cover up their involvement in it.”
But that’s not the same thing as murder, Winegarner said. “Don’t condemn a man just because he did bad things, made bad decisions, stole from dead people,” he said. “Mr. Walker did not kill these people.”
Prosecutors planned to call as witnesses Walker’s nephew as well as the man to whom he allegedly sold the gun. A federal prison inmate is expected to testify that Walker offered to pay him to have a witness killed.
Winegarner said he will challenge the testimony of those witnesses. The trial is scheduled to continue Wednesday.