Five DMR defendants appear in federal court

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Five defendants in the DMR case entered a federal courtroom Friday morning in handcuffs and leg irons. The day began early for the five defendants. They surrendered at the FBI office beginning at 7AM.

Former DMR director Dr. Bill Walker, his son Scott Walker, former D'Iberville City Manager Michael Janus and former DMR managers Joe Ziegler Jr. and Tina Shumate appeared before federal magistrate Robert Walker. Following a 40 minute hearing, they were each set free on $25,000 appearance bonds.

During their initial appearance at federal court, the charges were read to each individually, they were advised of their rights and informed of the possible prison time if convicted.

The five defendants face prison terms ranging from 15 years to 75 years if they are found guilty on all counts. Their lawyers say the truth will come out at trial and the public will see another side of this story.

"I do think people need to wait until all the facts are out. We're given that right under our constitution and people should withhold judgment until they are all out," said attorney Corban Gunn, who is helping represent Scott Walker.

Among the courtroom spectators were Dr. Sharon Walker, Bill Walker's wife and Scott Walker's mother, along with Trinity Ryals Walker, who is Scott Walker's wife. Both were solemn throughout the proceeding, as were the five defendants.

Arthur Madden is the lead attorney for Scott Walker.

"We'll have to look at all the evidence. The discovery process is just beginning," he told reporters following the hearing.

Dr. Bill Walker told WLOX News he had no comment.

The attorney for defendant, Tina Shumate, looks forward to her side of the story to emerge in court.

"We're looking forward to an opportunity to get the truth out again," said attorney Tim Holleman, who said he expects to receive discovery evidence in the case next week.

What will happen at next week's arraignment?

"Nothing more than enter a plea of not guilty to all counts," said Holleman.

Just before the hearing began, the five defendants were brought into the courtroom in handcuffs and leg cuffs. That prompted an exchange of words between defense attorney Joe Sam Owen, and one of the U.S. marshals.

She could be heard to say at one point, 'It's over. All of our defendants are placed in cuffs.'

After the hearing, WLOX News asked attorney Owen about that exchange.

"I just simply asked the marshal if that was necessary. My thought process was since obviously they were not going to seek detention, and it's not going to be an unsecured bond, in my mind it didn't appear that was a problem. But she said that's their standard protocol. And so we just, respectfully disagreed," said attorney Owen.

Along with posting the $25,000 bond, there are some restrictions for the defendants. They may travel only within the Southern District and were required to surrender their passports.

Arraignment for the five is next Wednesday morning at ten o'clock. All are expected to enter pleas of not guilty.

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