A career criminal whose role in the killing of a young woman outside a trendy Fresno restaurant in 1992 inspired California’s Three Strikes Law will stand trial on felony charges of domestic violence – a crime that could send him to prison for life, a judge ruled Thursday in Fresno County Superior Court.
Douglas Walker, 51, of Fresno, will face charges of corporal injury to a cohabitant, making criminal threats, and attempting to dissuade the victim from testifying, Judge Jane Cardoza said.
The judge made her ruling after Fresno police officer Ron Pack testified that Walker’s girlfriend, Karrie Alvarado, told him that Walker had punched her in the face on the night of Feb. 25, 2014, giving her a black eye. Pack testified that he also noticed bruises on her face that Alvarado said was from a previous altercation with Walker.
In addition, Pack testified that Alvarado told him that Walker held a large stick over his head and threatened to kill her. But Pack said Alvarado also was drunk at the time of the interview.
The alleged altercation happened in the couple’s apartment near Shields and West avenues in west-central Fresno.
Whether that evidence will be used in Walker’s pending trial is unclear. That’s because Alvarado died March 7, 2015, at age 56. Fresno attorney Eric Green, who is defending Walker, argued Pack’s testimony is hearsay and can’t be used in trial.
But the evidence that accuses Walker of attempting to dissuade Alvarado from testifying will be used because it comes from recorded jailhouse conversations between him and his girlfriend.
Green told the judge the evidence is sketchy because Walker and Alvarado mostly talk about loving each other, sex, family and their lack of money.
But prosecutor Tim Galstan said Walker clearly urges Alvarado “not to talk to the DA,” don’t accept a subpoena from the prosecution, and to lie on the witness stand.
I need you to be gone.
Defendant Douglas Walker tells the alleged victim
The conversations were recorded in March 2014, about two to three weeks after the altercation, Galstan told the court.
In one conversation, Walker tells Alvarado that he has spoken to an inmate who has “beaten two DV cases.”
Walker then outlines his plan: He tells Alvarado that at his preliminary hearing, she will recant what she told police. Then once the trial starts, Walker tells Alvarado that she has to disappear. “I need you to be gone,” he says. This way, the prosecutor can only use her recanted testimony and the charges will be dismissed, Walker says.
Alvarado appears to go along with the plan. She tells Walker that she plans to testify that she started the fight. “We argued and I was in your face but you left,” she says.
At Walker’s urging, Alvarado says she will drink two shots of liquor so she can be combative toward the prosecution.
Walker’s criminal history began at age 13, when he was arrested for inhaling fumes and selling heroin, court records show.
Before age 18, he had been arrested three times for being drunk in public. That was followed by arrests for petty thefts and drugs, the court documents show.
He became a key figure in the Three Strikes law after he was convicted of being an accessory to the robbery and murder of 18-year-old Kimber Reynolds outside a Tower District restaurant in June 1992. Her death came at the hands of Walker’s friend Joe Davis, who shot her as she fought for her purse. Davis was later killed by Fresno police.
Walker’s role in Reynolds’ slaying prompted her father, Mike Reynolds, to campaign for the “Three Strikes and You’re Out” law, which mandates tougher sentences for repeat offenders in California.
Walker received a nine-year sentence for his role in Reynolds’ slaying, but was paroled after serving 4 1/2 years in prison. Within a few weeks of his release, he violated parole and was arrested and sent back to prison. Since then he has been in and out of prison.
He could have received his third strike after being convicted of stealing a tool chest in 2003. He avoided the third strike because a judge gave him the benefit of the doubt and a lesser punishment.
He could have received his third strike after being convicted of stealing a tool chest in 2003. He avoided the third strike – which would have netted him a 25-years-to-life sentence – because a judge gave him the benefit of the doubt and a lesser punishment of 12 years and four months, court records show.
Under the prison realignment law that sends lower-level offenders to county jails instead of state prisons, he was placed on low-level supervision in Fresno in November 2013 because his last crime was considered nonviolent, authorities said. Three months later, police arrested him for hitting Alvarado.
Outside court Wednesday, Green, who represented Walker in the Kimber Reynolds slaying, said his client isn’t a violent person. When Kimber Reynolds was killed, Walker and Davis “were shooting up heroin and doing purse snatches,” Green said.
“He didn’t know Davis was going to shoot that young girl,” Green said, noting that Walker received his first two strikes from the Reynolds case – robbery and attempted robbery.
In the present case, Green said, Walker and Alvarado both drank and argued at lot, but they appeared to love each other. In the jailhouse conversations, Walker and Alvarado called the other “Babe” and frequently say “I love you.”
Because the conversations were recorded, Green says he faces an uphill battle. “We shall see what the jury thinks of these charges,” he said.