FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, July 24, 2014
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Two Men Sentenced to Decades in Prison
For 2008 Slaying of Government Witness
Defendants Found Guilty of Murder, Criminal Street Gang Charges
WASHINGTON – Willie Walker, Jr., 24, and Ricky Donaldson, 23, were sentenced today to prison terms of 88 years and 45 years, respectively for violent crimes, including the 2008 slaying of a government witness, announced U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr.
Walker and Donaldson were found guilty by a jury in March 2014, following a trial in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. The jury found them guilty of first-degree premeditated murder while armed with aggravating circumstances; conspiracy to commit first-degree murder while armed; obstructing justice; several firearms offenses; and related criminal street gang charges. The jury also found Walker guilty of charges of aggravated assault and assault with intent to kill for two related shootings in February and March of 2008.
The defendants, both of Washington, D.C., were sentenced by the Honorable John Ramsey Johnson.
“Willie Walker Jr. orchestrated the killing of a government witness from his jail cell, and Ricky Donaldson did the shooting,” said U.S. Attorney Machen. “Now Walker will spend 88 years behind bars and Donaldson will spend 45 years in prison for their cold-blooded efforts to avoid justice at all costs. This case demonstrates our commitment to punish those who target witnesses for simply telling the truth.”
According to the government’s evidence, Walker and Donaldson were members of a criminal street gang that operated in the area of the LeDroit Park neighborhood in Northwest Washington. The gang, known as “LDP,” or “Westside,” sold crack cocaine, among other illicit activities, in the Kelly Miller housing development in LeDroit Park.
On Feb. 4, 2008, after an argument, Walker shot a 55-year-old woman multiple times in the legs. The victim immediately identified Walker as her assailant to law enforcement. A warrant was issued for Walker’s arrest, but he was not immediately apprehended. On March 31, 2008, Walker argued with Delois “Peaches” Persha, 44. Ms. Persha referenced the earlier shooting that Walker had committed, telling him that she would not be treated the same way. In response, Walker shot Ms. Persha multiple times in the torso, and then, as she lay on the ground, multiple times in the face. Ms. Persha survived the attack, and immediately identified Walker as her assailant to law enforcement. For her protection, Ms. Persha, who had grown up in LeDroit Park, was relocated out of the area.
After Walker was arrested and detained in July 2008, he and Donaldson, along with the aid of other LDP gang members, began communicating about hunting down and killing the witnesses against Walker. On Sept. 13, 2008, Donaldson located Ms. Persha, who had returned to the area of LeDroit Park, and fatally shot her multiple times in the back and head. Ms. Persha died from her injuries on Sept. 18, 2008.
The jury found Walker guilty of crimes for his role in the February and March 2008 shootings, as well as the murder of Ms. Persha. Donaldson was found guilty in the murder.
In announcing the sentences, U.S. Attorney Machen praised the work of the detectives, officers, and crime scene technicians who investigated the case for the Metropolitan Police Department. He also expressed appreciation for the work of the FBI’s Cellular Analysis Survey Team. He commended the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Paralegal Specialists Marian Russell, Sharece Muschette, Gary Nails, and Rommell Pachoca; Lead Paralegal Specialist Philip Aronson; Supervisory Paralegal Specialist Sharon Newman; Victim/Witness Advocates Jennifer Clark and Yvonne Bryant; Victim/Witness Security Specialists Michael Hailey, Deborah Cannon, M. Laverne Forrest, Katina Adams-Washington, and David Foster; Intelligence Specialist Zachary McMenamin; former Intelligence Specialist Larry Grasso; Criminal Investigators John Marsh and Durand Odom; and Litigation Technology Specialist Leif Hickling.
Finally, U.S. Attorney Machen recognized the work of Assistant U.S. Attorneys Chrisellen Kolb, Elizabeth Danello, David Goodhand, and Suzanne Curt, who provided legal assistance, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alessio Evangelista and Michael Brittin, who investigated the case, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kimberley Nielsen and Jeffrey Pearlman, who prosecuted the case at trial.14-172