Judge finds probable cause against Cape man accused of fatally abusing son

Friday, October 1, 2010

Three witnesses testified in a Cape Girardeau County courtroom Thursday against a Cape Girardeau father accused of fatally abusing his 7-week-old son.

Allen R. Walker Jr. was charged with child endangerment Aug. 25, but Cape Girardeau County Prosecuting Attorney Morley Swingle added a second count -- second-degree murder -- when the infant died Aug. 26 at a St. Louis hospital.

Associate Circuit Court Judge Gary A. Kamp ruled there was probable cause to proceed with Walker's case and set the defendant's arraignment for Oct. 12.

The infant's mother, Ashley Locklear, was the first witness called to the stand and described for the court her day Aug. 22, when she said she discovered bruises on her son's face and head. Locklear said when she arrived home from work just before 3 p.m., Walker told her not to check on the children because he had just put them in their cribs for a nap.

His comment instructing her to not check on the infants, Locklear testified, seemed unusual. Still, Locklear said she cooked dinner for the couple and about an hour later checked on the babies.

Locklear said she checked on Allen Walker Jr. first, the allegedly abused infant, and noticed immediately a bruise above his left eye and a "dent" in his temple.

"His eyes were somewhat open," Locklear said. "He would move a little bit but not how he usually would."

After scans and X-ray examinations at a hospital, the infant was airlifted to a hospital in St. Louis.

Dr. Jane Turner, assistant medical examiner for the city of St. Louis, testified she performed the child's autopsy, which determined he died of three severe brain hemorrhages.

"With those three injuries, there was at least three impacts," Turner said.

Turner described all of the infant's injuries to the court, including several skull fractures, bruises above the left eye and on the cheek and chin. Turner said there was also bruising on the right leg near the infant's ankle, marks on his right wrist and rib fractures that had begun to heal.

She testified the injuries were consistent with having occurred Aug. 22. Due to the severity, she said, the infant wouldn't have been able to survive long without respiratory support at the hospital.

Additionally, Turner testified the injuries weren't consistent with ones that would be caused by a Pack-and-Play falling on top of the baby -- what Walker told Cape Girardeau investigators happened while he was watching the infant.

Cape Girardeau Police Department Detective Darren Estes told the court he spent about four hours interviewing Walker, who waived his Miranda rights to speak with police before he asked for an attorney.

Estes said Walker told him a Pack-and-Play fell on the child but also admitted he didn't believe that would cause such serious injuries.

"He admitted he was the only one watching the children that day," said Estes, adding that Walker didn't admit to causing injury to his son.

Before the start of the preliminary hearing, Kamp sentenced Walker to 90 days in jail for violating his probation, ordered by the court for a 2008 offense. In 2008, Walker was convicted of second-degree domestic assault.

Walker remains in custody at the Cape Girardeau County Jail on a $250,000 cash-only bond.

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