Accused Tampa Murder Suspect Declines Plea Bargain
A Tampa man sat in the witness chair shackled and handcuffed as he told a judge that he wished to reject a plea deal that was negotiated on his behalf by his public defender Ken Littman. Ronnie Walker previously was tried in connection with a murder-home-invasion-robbery. However, the case resulted in a hung jury. The plea agreement negotiated with the prosecutor by Littman would have resulted in Walker being sentenced to 5 years in state prison and a subsequent 5 years on probation. Walker is definitely taking a serious risk by rejecting the pleas as he faces a potential sentence of life in prison at trial.
Littman informed the court that Walker's decision to reject the plea agreement was against the advice of counsel. Littman also apologized to the judge for his client's decision not to accept the plea deal. "It's my belief having done this for 35 years, that re-trials generally benefit the prosecution, Littman told the judge in open court. "I wanted this clear so there's no claim later on if the trial does not work out the way Mr. Walker would like . . . he doesn't come back post-conviction and claim he didn't know."
Walker is accused of shooting and killing Elaine Caldwell. Caldwell's boyfriend testified that on the evening of the shooting that Walker forced his way into the couple's home during a robbery and shot Caldwell. Caldwell allegedly was told to "shut up" during the robbery. When Caldwell did not stop screaming, Walker allegedly shot her. The judge declared a mistrial in the original trial when the jury could not agree on a verdict.
"A criminal defendant generally is ill-advised to disregard the legal advice of his criminal defense lawyer, especially when the criminal defense attorney feels the obligation to inform the court that the decision to proceed is against legal advice," said Florida criminal defense attorney John Musca. Musca indicated that a defendant that passes on a 5-year sentence when he faces life imprisonment takes a huge risk. Nonetheless, the ultimate decision is up to the defendant explained Musca.