He didn’t cooperate with authorities because he didn’t want his friends to suffer. Informal discussions about a plea never went anywhere. Walker, unaware he was facing life, chose to go trial, despite overwhelming evidence against him. Then his lawyer withdrew because of a conflict of interest. When a public defender took over, trial preparations had begun and it was too late for a plea.
Judge J. Phil Gilbert followed mandatory sentencing guidelines that added years for aggravating factors such as the amount of drugs, his organizing role (which included enlisting minors in the ring) and previous misdemeanors. The result: a sentence of life with no chance for parole.
Gilbert told Walker while he needed to be punished severely, “whether this is the right sentence or not, is not for me to judge.”
Walker, later described by the judge as a middleman in the ring, was the only one to receive life.
Three others went to trial and five pleaded guilty, including the kingpin, a two-time drug felon who cooperated and testified against Walker. He served about five years.
The criminal judicial system functions on plea bargains. Without them, it would crash and burn almost immediately.
This is why they punish those who refuse a plea so severely – to encourage the others.