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Posted on Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 10:57 a.m.

Updated: First of three suspects in killing of Ypsilanti father pleads guilty to second-degree murder

By Heidi Fenton

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional details from court today and statements from the victim's family.

Willie Walker, the first of three suspects set to stand trial in the fatal robbery of an Ypsilanti father, will spend at least 35 years in prison under an agreement reached Tuesday just before the trial was to begin.

Under the agreement reached between Walker and his attorney, Erane Washington, and Washtenaw County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Joseph Burke, Walker pleaded guilty to all charges, but will have the opportunity for parole after 35 years, rather than facing a mandatory life sentence. He will serve 2 years for a felony firearms charge and at least another 33 for second-degree murder. A maximum sentence period, as required by state law in Michigan, will be set at his sentencing July 25th.

Walker was charged with second-degree murder in the Nov. 6 death of Jason Hoover at Schooner Cove Apartments in Ypsilanti Township.

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Willie Walker

Police responded at about 8:23 p.m. and found the Ypsilanti father of a 1-year-old girl dead inside an apartment in the 5000 block of Bosuns Way — the victim of an apparent fatal gunshot wound to the chest. Police said the shooting evolved from a suspected drug deal.

Police said three men fled in a vehicle after the shooting, and they later arrested Willie Walker, James Lester and Keywone Walker.

Investigators said Willie Walker, 30, fired the shot that killed Hoover. Lester was in the apartment, and Keywone Walker, also 22, drove their vehicle to and from the scene, police said. The three are being tried separately and have remained in police custody without bond since the slaying. Lester’s trial is scheduled for Aug. 22 and Keywone Walker’s is set for Aug. 29.

Burke posed several questions to Willie Walker before moving forward with the agreement and Walker responded by telling the court that he did have a gun at the time he entered a Schooner Cove apartment Nov. 6.

“Where was the gun when you entered the apartment?” Burke asked.

“It was in my pocket,” Willie Walker said.

“What did you do with the gun?”

“I shot him,” Walker responded.

Burke went on to tell the court that Jason Hoover died of a single gunshot wound to the lung and heart. As Circuit Court Judge Melinda Morris spoke to Willie Walker about his plea, Hoover’s mother, Alice Carroll, began to sob and was led out of the courtroom along with Hoover’s girlfriend, Sarah Collinsworth, and other family.

“They don’t think about what they’re doing when they take a life,” she said, standing out in the hallway wiping away tears. “They hurt more than just Jason — they hurt his family and friends.”

Carroll said the family planned to visit Hoover’s gravesite Tuesday afternoon. In the days since the shooting, she said, family members have continually shown photos of Hoover to his 1-year-old daughter, Makayla. They’re afraid for the day she’ll forget his face.

Though Burke said he was prepared to go to trial with Willie Walker this morning, the agreement Walker and his attorney placed on the table was too hard to pass up.

“The certainty of conviction and the certainty of a very lengthy sentence is very hard to turn down,” Burke said, shortly after court adjourned.

Burke said he still plans for trials of the other two suspects in August.

Heidi Fenton covers crime and courts for Reach her at or 734-623-4673. You also can follow her on Twitter or subscribe to's e-mail newsletters.



Thu, Jun 16, 2011 : 9:04 p.m.

ALl of you judging a VICTIM should be ashamed of yourselves all that are left to read tis are his family and freinds. Why arent you speaking of the FACTS that is that Willie Walker stood in open court and stated that he killed JAson Hoover. Regardless of what Hoover did, he is not on trial here, his KILLERS are, and I dont now about you but I would say that MURDER is a much worse than crime than selling a ag of weed. I hope that none of you judgemental ppl ever have to suffer a atragedy and then read ppl constantly slandering the dead, didnt your mothers teach you any better?????????? Whatt kind of ppl care more about misdemeanor than a felony murder. He has met his maker and received his judgement, and I am sure he is in a better place because I know that He had an amazing heart, and I am also sure that Willie Walker and his accomplices will rot in hell, after they rot in prison for taking a life!


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 8:33 p.m.

Jamie--in your mind, you can try to justify it all you want. Read the many articles and facts about this case. He was killed when he SOLD drugs to another person. That is the definition of a drug dealer.


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 3:55 p.m.

but everyone is constantly drug dealer this n that... Jason was NOT on trial Wille was, it was a bad situation all together. zno matter what Jason's past consisted of he was NOT on trial here he was MURDERED!! theres your "facts".


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 3:37 p.m.

this man stood up in court and admitted to murder, it was premeditated murder, they admitted that too. he got 35 years and hopefully his brother and their accomplise get the same or even more


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 2:11 p.m.

I bet he will retract his plea; watch as he tries to implicate everyone else involved and drag this trial out. What do these three have to lose? Whatever it was that they had was thrown away when they went over to the drug dealer and turned the transaction into a murder.


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 3:40 p.m.

i was in court, he stood up, didnt want to put his own mother thru the trial and told them he was the shooter in this situation.


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 8:57 p.m.

Michigan was the first state to constitutionally abolish the death penalty and this proscribed status was reaffirmed by the Michigan Constitution of 1963. The great trade-off is that the Michigan Legislature made the mandatory penalty for those convicted of first-degree murder is life in prison with no possibility of parole. The sentence is so harsh that it has been deemed constitutionally defective legal counsel by the Michigan Court of Appeals for an attorney to advise a defendant to plead guilty to such a charge. The harshness of such a penalty often induces those charged with murder in the first degree to plead guilty to second degree murder to have some hope of seeing freedom; the maximum term for second degree murder is a parolable life sentence with the statute allowing the sentencing judge to give a sentence of any number of years in prison. The benefit of a plea to second-degree murder to the government is that the defendant typically waives any and all appeals and it is fairly certain he or she shall serve a long time in prison. A sentence of life imprisonment for conviction of first-degree murder can only be mitigated by executive clemency of the Governor. Recently a few convicts receiving such a sentence in Washtenaw County in the 1970s received such clemency by Governor Granholm just before she left office.

Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 9:19 p.m.

and the moral to the story is don't kill anybody and your highly unlikely to face the choice.


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 6:07 p.m.

I am curious how the staff decided on using the term 'father' in all of the headlines about this story as opposed to 'drug dealer'.


Thu, Jun 16, 2011 : 9:08 p.m.

He was a father, it did not state that he was drug dealer it stated that he was getting it for someone he THOUGHT was a friend. And as for his conviction he was a kid when he was and HE IS NOT ON TRIAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 3:38 p.m.

he was not a drug dealer, he was tryin to hook up a someone who he thought was a friend. those are 2 different things


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 12:03 p.m.

Roadman--you are absolutely wrong. Mr hoover was convicted of home invasion, and he violated his probation. He was murdered when he was selling drugs, and put the lives of innocent people at risk.


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 1:27 a.m.

@YouWhine: The mother of his children's version is not incontrovertible proof as it could be impeachible for several reasons, including bias. In fact, by telling police it was a robbery during a drug deal elevates the homicide to a first-degree "felony murder" situation as opposed to a mere unpremeditated kiling where the prosecutor would have to charge initially with a second-degree murder count.


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 1:19 a.m.

Well, Roadman, if I recall correctly the mother of his child(ren) gave a lengthy interview in which she explained that the deceased had set up a drug deal in the apartment, it went bad, and he was killed. In my mind, good journalism would point out that being a drug dealer and dealing drugs in the home where your significant other and child are is EXTREMELY dangerous.


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 8:40 p.m.

The deceased, to my knowledge, was not convicted of anything at any time and to sully his memory as a "drug dealer" without incontrovertible proof of such would be bad journalism.


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 4:53 p.m.

Like Bertha, NO Comment! I would not be printed!


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 4:53 p.m.

Take away: If times are tough and you are having a hard time making ends meet and/or feeding yourself... There are options for free room and board at the taxpayer's expense and you just have to accept a bit more structure in your life...

Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 3:17 p.m.

I don't know if justice was served or not. I will just say if he lives that long (tomorrow isn't promised to anyone) he will be 65 when he gets out. Its hard to imagine starting over at 65 after 35 years in prison.


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 11:34 p.m.

we were told he already has health problems so i hope he dies a long painful death, now the truth is out there

Bertha Venation

Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 3:06 p.m.

"No Comment."

Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 3:33 p.m.

playing it safe on this one hey?