Former Army Soldier Sentenced for Murder-for-Hire and Gun Possession
JUNE 21 (LAREDO, Texas) – A fourth man charged in relation to a murder-for-hire conspiracy has been handed a significant federal sentence, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent in Charge Javier Peña and United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. Samuel Walker, 29, of Sharon, Miss., was convicted in November 2012 along with Calvin Epps, following a seven-day trial.
Today, Senior United Sates District Court Judge George P. Kazen sentenced Walker to respective sentences of 120 and 60 months for conspiracy to commit murder for hire and for possessing a firearm during in and in relation to a crime of violence. Following his 15-year sentence, he will be on supervised release for five years.
According to the evidence presented at trial, the investigation began in January 2011 when co-defendant Marcus Mickle, 21, of Columbia, S.C., began negotiations with persons whom he thought were members of the Los Zetas Cartel, actually undercover Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents, to purchase marijuana in return for stolen weapons. According to the testimony of DEA agents, the discussions concerned the distribution of marijuana in the Columbia area and how Mickle and co-defendant Calvin Epps, 29, of Hopkins, S.C., told undercover agents about a friend in the military who could provide military weapons to them. The agents were later introduced to co-defendant Kevin Corley, 30, of Columbia, who identified himself as an active duty officer in the Army responsible for training soldiers. According to the agents’ testimony, Corley offered to provide tactical training for cartel members and to purchase weapons for the cartel.
Over the next several months, Corley continued to communicate with undercover agents regarding the services he could provide the cartel as a result of the training, experience and access to information/equipment afforded him as an active duty soldier.
On Jan. 7, 2012, Corley traveled to Laredo and met with undercover agents. During this meeting, he stated that he could raid a ranch located at or near Laredo containing 20 kilograms of cocaine and conduct a contract killing there. Corley stated he would need to bring his own team and agreed to the raid and killing for a $50,000 fee and five kilograms of cocaine.
During March 2012, Corley allegedly arranged for 300 pounds of marijuana to be delivered to Mario Corley, 41, of Saginaw, Texas, in Charleston, S.C. Kevin Corley also assisted in brokering 500 pounds of marijuana and five kilograms of cocaine for Mickle and Epps and discussed with agents the distribution of these narcotics in South Carolina, Texas and Colorado.
Agents testified that on March 5, 2012, Kevin Corley delivered two AR-15 assault rifles with scopes, an airsoft assault rifle, five allegedly stolen ballistic vests and other miscellaneous equipment to an undercover agent in Colorado Springs, Colo., in exchange for $10,000. At the meeting, Kevin Corley and the undercover agent again discussed the contract killing and the retrieval of the cocaine which was to occur on March 24, 2012. Kevin Corley stated he had purchased a new Ka-Bar knife to carve a “Z” into the victim’s chest and was planning on buying a hatchet to dismember the body. Evidence at trial demonstrated how Kevin Corley told agents he had discussed the plan with Walker and that Walker was going to be a part of the team that would come to Texas to commit the murder for hire. The jury also heard evidence that he and Walker had gone to the rifle range and test-fired Walker’s scoped rifle.
On March 24, 2012, Kevin Corley, Walker and Shavar Davis, 30, of Denver, Colo., traveled to Laredo and met with undercover agents, at which time they discussed the location of the intended victim, the logistics of performing the contract kill and their respective roles.
During the trial, the jury heard about this meeting and that Walker contended he could hit the intended victim from more than two football fields away with his rifle. Agents testified that immediately thereafter, the three were arrested and a fourth suspect was shot and killed. A subsequent search of the vehicle in which Corley and the other co-conspirators arrived revealed two semi-automatic rifles with scopes, one .300 Caliber Weatherby Magnum bolt-action rifle with a scope and bipod, one hatchet, one Ka-Bar knife, one bag of .223 caliber ammunition and one box of .300 caliber ammunition.
During trial, Kevin Corley testified that the .300 caliber Weatherby Magnum rifle and ammunition belonged to Walker and that Walker was supposed to take the long-distance shot at the intended victim with this weapon. Walker also testified and admitted that rifle was his but claimed he came to Laredo, not to kill anyone, but to train clients for security purposes that Kevin Corley had met in Laredo.
Both Kevin Corley and Walker testified that they served in the Army together and were deployed to Afghanistan. Walker was a Sergeant at the time and served for a time in Kevin Corley’s infantry platoon. Walker and Kevin Corley returned to Fort Carson, Colo., after their deployment to Afghanistan in the summer of 2011.
Mickle was sentenced last week, also to 15 years, while Davis received a sentence of 10 years in federal prison. Robert Corley, who pleaded guilty to the marijuana conspiracy, was previously sentenced to 30 months in prison. The remaining co-defendants - Kevin Corley, Calvin Epps and Mario Corley - have not yet been scheduled for sentencing.
The investigation leading to the charges was conducted by the DEA and the FBI with the assistance of U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Roberto Ramirez and Jody Young.