Walker v. State

Decision Date28 August 1997
Docket Number27633,Nos. 26700,s. 26700
Citation113 Nev. 853,944 P.2d 762
PartiesRichard Allan WALKER, Appellant v. The STATE of Nevada, Respondent. Richard Allan WALKER, Appellant, v. The STATE of Nevada, Respondent.
CourtNevada Supreme Court


On April 14, 1992, police discovered the body of Kevin Marble in Las Vegas. On the same morning, David Riker and appellant Richard Allan Walker ("Walker") were apprehended in Barstow, California after crashing a van that Marble had used. On June 21 1994, a jury convicted Walker of first-degree murder with use of a deadly weapon and robbery with use of a deadly weapon. Walker then filed a motion for a new trial, which was denied. On December 8, 1994, Walker received two consecutive sentences of life without the possibility of parole. Walker appeals from the district court's judgment of conviction and denial of his motion for a new trial.


On April 14, 1992, at 2:47 a.m., Thomas Harmon ("Harmon"), a Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department ("LV Metro") officer, found the body of Kevin Marble ("Marble") in an alleyway behind Boston Avenue in Las Vegas. The body was lying in a large pool of blood. Footwear impressions from two different sets of shoes appeared in the blood. A survival-type knife lay on the nearby sidewalk. Marble had been stabbed once in the neck and once in the chest.

Appellant Richard Allan Walker ("Walker") was charged with first-degree murder with use of a deadly weapon and robbery with use of a deadly weapon. A jury trial commenced on May 31, 1994.

At trial, John McDonald ("McDonald") testified that in April 1992, David Riker ("Riker") and Walker were working for him as "carnies" in Blythe, California. McDonald testified that on April 10, 1992, at approximately 8:00 p.m., Walker quit. Soon thereafter, Riker also quit.

Philip Quinn ("Quinn"), also a carnie, testified that he shared a motel room in Blythe with Riker and Walker. Quinn testified that they had discussed leaving the carnival, and Riker had mentioned going to Las Vegas. Quinn testified that Riker owned a pair of brown or black boots with red laces (the "Colorado boots"), and Walker owned one or two pairs of tennis shoes.

Melvin Bergman ("Bergman"), of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ("NOAA"), and his crew were also working in Blythe in April 1992. On April 11, 1992, a Suburban van used by the NOAA crew (the "NOAA van") was stolen. Four days later, when Bergman recovered the NOAA van in Las Vegas, he noticed that parts of it had been spray-painted red. Bergman testified that upon recovery, a survival knife and its sheath were missing from a box in the van. At trial, Bergman identified photographs of the knife and sheath, and noted that the knife was bent in the photographs.

Thomas Thowsen ("Thowsen"), a LV Metro officer, testified that the NOAA van was recovered on South Highland in Las Vegas. Trans Sierra Communications ("TSC") was located nearby at 3347 South Highland.

Joseph Matvay ("Matvay"), a LV Metro senior crime analyst, testified that the NOAA van appeared to have been spray-painted in an attempt to obliterate latent fingerprints. Matvay identified a fingerprint on the driver's seat belt buckle as Walker's, and also found Riker's fingerprints in the van.

Stephen Glen Kirk ("Kirk") testified that in April 1992 he was employed by TSC and was Marble's coworker. Kirk testified that on April 13, 1992, at about 8:30 p.m., Marble came to his house to pick up some keys and an identification card. Marble told Kirk that he was going to the TSC office to work on some blueprints for a school, and then Marble was going home. Kirk identified a van recovered in Barstow as the van Marble drove (the "TSC van"), and identified objects found in the van, including blueprints, keys, and Marble's wallet.

Kathy Marble, Marble's wife, testified that Marble's West Boston Avenue apartment was near the TSC office.

Louis DeFalco ("DeFalco") testified that in April 1992 he ran security at the Primadonna Hotel and Whiskey Pete's at Stateline, Nevada. On April 14, 1992, between 1:20 and 1:30 a.m., he was notified about a confrontation between a drunk white male and a security guard in the parking lot. The white male was near a white van with "RC or TC Communications" printed on the side. DeFalco described the man as clean-shaven and having shoulder-length blondish-brown hair. DeFalco observed the man get into the passenger side of the van, and the van leave the parking lot in a reckless manner. A PBX operator notified the Nevada Highway Patrol and the California Highway Patrol ("CHP") about the van.

William Flowers ("Flowers"), a CHP officer, testified that at 1:33 a.m. on April 14, 1992, CHP dispatch notified him and his partner, Officer Nester ("Nester"), of a possible drunk driver involved in breaking a car window in the Whiskey Pete's parking lot. Dispatch said that the driver was a male with long hair and a beard. Flowers and Nester received a second call at 3:16 a.m., when the vehicle passed the agricultural check station. Personnel at the agricultural station had reported that the parties within the van smelled of alcohol, and that a bearded male was passed out in the back of the van. Flowers and Nester saw the van, confirmed the license plate number, and called for assistance to stop the vehicle. Flowers testified that he observed the van weaving within its lane, and stated that drunk drivers display these types of maneuvers due to a lack of coordination. Flowers and Nester followed the van for over six miles before Flowers signalled for it to pull over. Flowers testified that the van accelerated to 90 m.p.h. before it exited at Main Street in Barstow.

Barry Hazelett ("Hazelett"), a Barstow police officer, testified that at 3:27 a.m. he was involved in chasing a TSC van down Main Street in Barstow. The van ultimately crashed into an embankment. Both Riker and Walker were injured. Riker was removed from the driver's seat. Hazelett found a knife near Riker's foot, and Marble's driver's license outside the vehicle on the driver's side. When Walker was pulled out of the passenger side, he was wearing a knife sheath on his belt. At trial, Bergman identified this sheath as the mate for the survival knife. Hazelett described Walker as half-white, half-Asian, with long black hair.

Donald Dibble, formerly a LV Metro detective, testified that he impounded Riker's and Walker's clothes. The clothes associated with Walker included a pair of white Jordache athletic shoes, and a black vinyl knife sheath.

Terry Cook ("Cook"), a criminalist for the LV Metro Crime Lab, tested items retrieved from the TSC van for Riker's, Walker's and Marble's blood types. Cook testified that blood found on a set of black boots with red laces, on a pair of blue jeans, on a black-handled knife, and on a glove was consistent with Marble's blood type, to the exclusion of Riker and Walker. Cook found a small amount of Type A blood on a pair of Jordache athletic shoes consistent with either Riker's or Marble's blood type. The amount of blood on a knife with a compass and a bent handle was not enough to test. Blood on other items corresponded with either Walker's or Riker's blood types.

Richard Good ("Good"), an expert in footwear impression comparison, testified that several impressions in Marble's blood trail corresponded to the Jordache athletic shoes in evidence, although not to the exclusion of all other athletic shoes. Two impressions corresponded to the Colorado boots.

On June 21, 1994, the jury found Walker guilty of first-degree murder with use of a deadly weapon and robbery with use of a deadly weapon. Prior to the penalty phase, Walker filed a motion for a new trial based upon a claim of newly discovered evidence. The district court denied this motion. On December 8, 1994, Walker received two consecutive sentences of life without the possibility of parole plus two consecutive sentences of fifteen years for use of a deadly weapon. Walker filed notices of appeal from the judgment of conviction and from the denial of his motion for a new trial. This court consolidated the appeals.


First, Walker argues that the State failed to present sufficient evidence of guilt to support his convictions for murder with use of a deadly weapon and robbery with use of a deadly weapon; therefore, according to Walker, the district court erred in denying his motion for judgment of acquittal notwithstanding the jury verdict.

When the sufficiency of evidence is challenged on appeal in a criminal case, this court inquires "whether, after viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt." Hutchins v. State, 110 Nev. 103, 107-08, 867 P.2d 1136, 1139 (1994). "Circumstantial evidence alone may sustain a conviction." McNair v. State, 108 Nev. 53, 56, 825 P.2d 571, 576 (1992).

Evidence that Walker participated in the murder and robbery of Marble includes bloody footprints matching Walker's athletic shoes and a knife at the murder scene that matched a sheath Walker was wearing when stopped in Barstow. Additionally, Walker's fingerprint was found in the NOAA van a few blocks from the murder scene. Marble's personal property and items with blood matching Marble's blood type on them were found within the TSC van. We conclude that sufficient evidence in the record supports Walker's convictions.

Second, Walker argues that the district court erred in precluding him from presenting statements made by his co-defendant, Riker, at the guilt phase and at the penalty phase.

In a letter to Walker dated ...

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