Walker found guilty of murder

Two days after Roberta Ramsey recounted the afternoon her husband was killed on Valentine's Day 2007, she witnessed the conviction of a man who had a hand in her husband's death.

A Manatee County jury this morning found 19-year-old Michael Walker guilty of second-degree murder and armed burglary with a firearm in connection with the Feb. 14, 2007, shooting death of Daniel Ramsey, a retired Manatee County government employee.

Prosecutors had charged Walker with first-degree murder, even though testimony this week revealed he did not fire the shot that killed Daniel Ramsey during a burglary at the couple's home on 33rd Avenue East.

Ramsey died during the burglary that Walker willingly participated in, said Assistant State Attorney Art Brown, so he was prosecuted for murder. Under the law, a person can be convicted of murder if a killing takes place during the commission of a felony, including burglary.

After the verdict, Roberta Ramsey stood in a hall outside the courtroom embracing an unidentified man.

As Manatee County Sheriff's Office court bailiffs and victim advocates closely escorted her from the courthouse, one bailiff said Ramsey did not wish to speak to the media at that time.

During the trial she testified that she and her husband were returning to their home from a Valentine's Day lunch when they saw Walker coming out of their house. Moments later, Walker's alleged accomplice Anthony Lewis, 19, came out of the house and shot Daniel Ramsey with a gun taken from his nightstand, according to Roberta Ramsey.

The local NAACP had pushed prosecutors to offer a plea bargain to Walker since he was not the alleged gunman. The state attorney's office refused, instead holding firm to a first-degree murder charge, which carries a mandatory life sentence without parole.

The jury, however, chose to convict Walker of a lesser charge of second-degree murder, as well as armed burglary.

The second-degree murder conviction means Circuit Judge Diana Moreland can sentence Walker to up to life in prison. Sentencing was set for June 16.

"We're going to check into his background, apparently he had a pretty bad upbringing ... some abuse," said Carolyn Schelmmer, one of Walker's assistant public defenders.

She also said the defense plans to file a motion for a new trial within the next 10 days.

"There were some jury issues," she said.

Earlier this week, a juror told the judge that an unidentified woman had told the jury as it walked into the courtroom that the case against Walker would be "tossed out."

Armed burglary with a firearm also carries a possible life-prison sentence.

Brown said he plans to ask the judge to sentence Walker to two life prison terms.

"I'm pleased that he was convicted of two counts that both carry a potential life sentence," Brown said after the verdict was announced. "I know (jurors) worked very hard. I think the verdict will result in a just disposition."

Walker's lead assistant public defender, Jennifer Joynt-Sanchez, expressed displeasure with the murder verdict.

"I'm disappointed that they came back on second-degree murder when he is clearly not guilty of that, but I'm happy there is a possibility he won't get life at sentencing," she said.

During the trial Joynt-Sanchez had argued that there was no evidence her client ever knew Lewis had the loaded gun. Testimony revealed Lewis pulled the gun from his pocket before he fired it.

Also, she had argued there was no physical evidence Walker had been in the home.

Jurors deliberated for almost 10 hours over two days before reaching their decision today.

Schlemmer said she thinks the jury couldn't decide between convicting Walker of first-degree murder or finding him not guilty.

"It was clearly a compromise," she said. "They were out for 10 hours. ... They compromised down to second-degree murder."

During the trial jurors listened as Walker in a taped interview with detectives denied any role in the burglary and slaying.

Eventually, he admitted he was at the home when Lewis, shot Ramsey, a retired Manatee County parks and recreation maintenance supervisor.

"I didn't want no part of it," Walker said in the interview.

Ramsey's widow also testified she watched Lewis shoot her husband of 35 years. She said Walker stood by when Lewis fired the fatal shot.

"They were in this together all the way," Brown told jurors.

Roberta Ramsey testified that when the couple returned home from a Valentine's Day lunch, her husband used his pickup truck to block in a strange blue car parked in their driveway.

She told jurors she saw Walker outside her home, that her husband confronted him with a hunting knife and that he told Walker not to leave.

Lewis, she testified, then came out of the house.

Walker then shouted, "Come on, let's go."

Roberta Ramsey said Lewis told her husband, "I got something I can take care of you with."

Lewis, she said, then shot and killed her husband with a .38-caliber pistol.

Roberta Ramsey dialed 911. Her husband died of massive internal bleeding, a medical examiner testified.

Lewis, who has pleaded not guilty first-degree murder and armed burglary charges, is scheduled for trial in early August.

He also faces more charges in connection with an alleged murder-for-hire plot.

In December detectives provided Roberta Ramsey with protective custody after they were told by another inmate that Lewis wanted her killed.

Lewis' mother, Twando Lewis, and another man, Marquise McArthur, were arrested in connection with the alleged plot. But last month prosecutors announced they would not file charges against Twando Lewis due to a lack of evidence. Anthony Lewis and McArthur still face prosecution.