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Judge upholds life in prision Appeal is too late for resentencing
August 29, 2005
By Alan J. Keays Herald Staff
A federal judge has rejected an appeal request by a Camden, N.J., man sentenced to life in prison for drug dealing in Rutland because it was filed too late.
Federal Judge William Sessions wrote in a two-page order issued last week that Earnest J. Walker was sentenced to life in prison in October in U.S. District Court in Burlington.
Walker filed a notice of appeal on March 30, well after the 10-day limit, the ruling stated.
"Walker is not entitled to file a notice of appeal for good cause because he has failed to show good cause," Sessions wrote. "None of the documents filed on March 30, 2005 indicate any showing of good cause."
Assistant U.S. Attorney John-Claude Charbonneau, who prosecuted the case against Walker, said last week he expects Walker may try some other avenues to vacate his sentence.
Walker, 33, who also goes by the name "Q," was convicted by a federal jury of conspiring to distribute 50 grams or more of crack cocaine. Prosecutors argued that Walker supplied the drug to a ring in Rutland for several months in 2002.
The conspiracy charge carried a mandatory minimum sentence of at least 20 years in prison and up to $8 million in fines. However, Sessions found that because Walker had two prior felony drug convictions, a life sentence was mandated by federal law.
Defense attorneys argued that presentence reports indicated Walker's drug use, including the mind-altering drugs Ecstasy and Angel Dust, may have impaired his ability to understand the charges against him or to assist in his own defense.
The defense motion also talked of child abuse Walker had suffered, but Walker was ruled competent.
According to prosecutors, Walker started coming to Vermont in February 2002, because he heard there was money to be made selling crack cocaine in the state.
For several months starting in February 2002 Walker obtained crack cocaine in New York on a regular basis and had various people carry it to Rutland, prosecutors said.
Walker was arrested April 5, 2002, by federal agents and Rutland City Police detectives in Rutland. A federal jury convicted Walker in April 2003 on a charge of conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine.
According to court records, attorney Troy Archie of Camden, N.J., represented Walker at the sentencing hearing in October, 2004, but not during the trial.
Archie wrote in a motion that he sent a letter on Walker's behalf to the court six days after that sentencing hearing asking for court-appointed counsel for Walker, but never got a response.
"I attempted to discuss my continued representation with Mr. Walker and his family, but to no avail," Archie wrote.
Archie argued his letter to court seeking court-appointed for Walker could "have been construed as an extension of time in which to file the notice of appeal" until a court-appointed attorney was named.
"Based upon my review of the record, I believe several issues for appeal exist," Archie wrote.
The defense attorney then asked Sessions to allow Walker to file his notice of appeal outside the 10 day limit.
Archie could not be reached for comment.
The judge wrote in his ruling last week that federal rules do not allow an "extension of a period over 30 days."
Sessions then added, "For the reasons set forth above, the defendant's notice of appeal is denied."
Walker is serving his life sentence at a federal prison in Lewisburg, Pa.