Sunday, March 09, 2014


California’s three strikes law has been under attack but it has kept career criminals off the streets

Overzealous cops and prosecutors have given the hug-a-crook crowd good reasons to change the three strikes law by applying it to crooks when they commit a petty crime after two priors.

By Pablo Lopez and Marc Benjamin

The Fresno Bee
March 7, 2014

A Fresno man whose long rap sheet helped inspire California's Three Strikes Law was charged with felony crimes Friday that could land him behind bars for the rest of his life.

A Fresno man whose long rap sheet helped inspire California's Three Strikes Law was charged with felony crimes Friday that could land him behind bars for the rest of his life.

Douglas Walker, 49, pleaded not guilty in Fresno County Superior Court to corporal injury to a spouse, criminal threats and violation of probation.

Judge Glenda Allen-Hill ordered Walker be held in the Fresno County Jail without bail. He has been in jail since his arrest on Feb. 26, jail records show.

And he's not getting out if federal court-ordered releases kick in, Sheriff Margaret Mims said, because his charges put him on a don't-release list.

Walker's next court date is April 4.

Walker became a poster child for repeat offenders after he was convicted of being an accessory to the robbery and murder of 18-year-old Kimber Reynolds outside a Tower District restaurant in June 1992. Her death came at the hands of Walker's friend Joe Davis, who shot her as she fought for her purse. Davis was later killed by Fresno police.

Walker's role in Reynolds' slaying prompted her father, Mike Reynolds, to campaign for the Three Strikes Law, which mandates tougher sentences for repeat offenders in California.

Walker received a nine-year sentence for his role in Reynolds' slaying, but was paroled after serving 41/2 years in prison. Within a few weeks of his release, he violated parole and was arrested and sent back to prison.

Since then he has been in and out of prison.

He could have received his third strike after being convicted of stealing a tool chest in 2003. He avoided the third strike -- which would have netted him a 25-years-to-life sentence -- because a judge gave him the benefit of the doubt and a lesser punishment of 12 years and four months, court records show.

Under the prison realignment law that sends lower-level offenders to county jails instead of state prisons, he was placed on low-level supervision in Fresno last November because his last crime was considered nonviolent, authorities said.

Walker's criminal history and drug problems stretch back to his childhood. At age 13, he was arrested for inhaling fumes and selling heroin, court records show.

Before age 18, he had been arrested three times for being drunk in public. That was followed by arrests for petty thefts and drugs, the court documents show.

District Attorney Elizabeth Egan said her office "takes a tough stand" on crimes like those allegedly committed by Walker.

"He has been out (of custody) since Nov. 11, which is 106 days," she said. "We have filed charges against him, including one charge that is strike eligible, and are just beginning the litigation process."

Reynolds said Walker is dangerous: "This is a case of, if he's on the street it's pretty clear what kind of person he is and what kind of threat he represents.

"This guy is like a cat, he just keeps landing on his feet," Reynolds added. "He just seems to have an affinity for ending up back on the street and hurting people."

Friday also was a day for Reynolds to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Gov. Pete Wilson's signing of the Three Strike law.

Reynolds said the measure -- also approved by voters -- quieted naysayers who said the number of prison inmates would double within five years.

Instead, he said, the crime rate significantly dropped.

"There were fewer crime victims, which would stand to reason that there were fewer people prosecuted," he said.

But he is discouraged that the law is regularly getting revised, like with Proposition 36 in 2012, which allows prison inmates to petition courts for release if their third-strike convictions were nonviolent crimes.

"I really never expected the long-term maintenance. Our hope was that there was enough evidence that it would be obvious that it worked."

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