After less than a day of deliberations, a King County jury on Thursday found Curtis Walker guilty of first-degree murder in the April 2010 shooting death of Alajawan Brown, a 12-year-old boy who was gunned down after stepping off a Metro bus in Skyway.
Ayanna Brown doesn’t know if her family will ever find closure, but they finally got the answers they needed to understand why her 12-year-old son Alajawan was gunned down in April 2010 by a gang member.
“Wrong-colored clothes. Wrong place, wrong time,” she said outside a King County Superior Court courtroom on Thursday, minutes after a jury found Curtis Walker, 36, guilty of first-degree murder after one day of deliberations.
“My son is still gone,” said Louis Brown, Alajawan’s father, who with his wife and other relatives attended every day of Walker’s three-week trial. “It’s hard. It’s real hard.”
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Alajawan Brown was returning home after purchasing a pair of football cleats with $20 he’d earned doing yard work for neighbors, the jury heard during Walker’s trial.
He was shot because Walker, a 20-year member of the Blood Pirus gang, mistakenly thought Brown was a member of the rival Crips gang involved in a shootout at a nearby apartment complex only minutes earlier.
Brown was wearing a blue-and-black jacket and jeans — clothing that was strikingly similar to that worn by a Crip who shot and critically wounded one of Walker’s companions.
A number of prosecution witnesses testified that Brown and Walker made eye contact, and Brown turned and ran to a 7-Eleven store as Walker aimed a .38-caliber revolver at him and fired twice, striking the boy once in the back.
Brown collapsed and died in the store parking lot at South 129th Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Way South on April 29, 2010.
The jury of five women and seven men didn’t buy the defense’s claim that Brown was killed by Rodrigues Rabun or some other unknown gunman. Rabun was a neighbor of Walker’s who accompanied Walker and Jonathan Jackson to the Cedar Village Apartments, where Jackson was critically injured in a shootout with Crips gang members.
Brown was shot four minutes after Walker and his wife, Shaleese, sped out of the apartment complex and waited at a red light a block away.
Jurors had the option of finding Walker guilty of first- or second-degree murder. By finding him guilty of first-degree murder as charged, the jury determined that Brown’s slaying was premeditated.
They also found Walker guilty of first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm.
Walker faces a prison term of 39 to 50 years. A sentencing date has not yet been scheduled.
Walker and his wife were the only defense witnesses to testify, and both were grilled by prosecutors about numerous inconsistencies in their statements to police and on the stand.
Walker’s DNA was found on the trigger of the murder weapon and on casings inside the gun. Eyewitnesses implicated Walker, along with ballistics tests, phone records and video surveillance footage.
King County sheriff’s detectives followed the couple from their house in Des Moines to a motel in Yelm the day after the shooting and arrested Walker, a felon, on a probation violation a few days later. He was charged in connection with Brown’s death that June.
Walker had no discernible reaction as the verdict was read. As he was led out of the courtroom, he told his sister and mother to “be strong.” His wife was not in court Thursday and his defense attorney, Jerry Stimmel, left the courtroom without speaking to reporters.
Watching Walker and his wife testify was difficult, Ayanna Brown said.
“After a while, all I could do was sit there and look at him in awe. How easy the words flowed from their lips … I listened to them, but I didn’t believe anything they were saying,” she said.
King County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Kristin Richardson, who tried the case with Deputy Prosecutor Jessica Berliner, admitted she had trouble “keeping my temper” during cross-examination of Walker and his wife.
“They changed their story every time they talked and that wasn’t lost on the jury,” said Richardson, who described the case as “senseless, ridiculous and unbearably heartbreaking.”
The jury foreman, an Eastside man in his 40s who declined to give his name, said the evidence against Walker was overwhelming.
“The DNA was a major factor and the timelines and such,” he said, adding that several jurors lost sleep during the trial.
Another juror, a man in his 50s, also from the Eastside, said he wasn’t at all swayed by Walker’s testimony.
“I think the defendant — Walker and his wife — had so many holes in their testimony, it wasn’t very credible,” said the juror, who also asked not to be named. “… It was a really emotional case that we all took home with us.”
Sara Jean Green: 206-515-5654 or firstname.lastname@example.org