Death row inmate seeks re-sentencing

Death row inmate seeks re-sentencing

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - A death row inmate in Mississippi will return to Harrison County Circuit Court in February. Alan Dale Walker will have a hearing on Feb. 22 to determine if his counsel was ineffective during the sentencing phase of his capital murder trial. Walker is seeking to be re-sentenced for his capital murder conviction.

Walker was sentenced to death for the 1990 murder of 19-year-old Konya Edwards, of Long Beach. Edwards died after being beaten and raped. Her body was set on fire and thrown into a lake.

Walker was also sentenced to 30 years for rape and 35 years for kidnapping.

In November 2015, psychologist Dr. Matthew Mendel recommended that Walker undergo a neuropsychological evaluation and an assessment of intellectual functioning to be used as mitigating evidence in the February hearing. The circuit court deemed that another evaluation by Mendel would be sufficient, and denied an evaluation by neuropsychologist Dr. Robert Shaffer.

In December, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood said in response to the circuit court's denial, "The state did argue that Walker had been examined prior to trial and that he had now been examined by another mental health expert (Dr. Matthew Mendel) secured by his defense in 2008, making any further examination unnecessary."

The Mississippi Supreme Court overturned that decision in January, citing a previous ruling:

Prisoners sentenced to death should be granted access to their experts so long as the access complies with the rules and regulations of the Mississippi Department of Corrections and so long as those rules and regulations do not violate petitioner's due-process rights.

Walker's attorney, James Craig, said this appeal is just a small part of Walker's post-conviction petition, but that it will allow new testing by Shaffer to be used in the evidentiary hearing.

According to Craig, attorneys for both sides spoke via teleconference with Circuit Court Judge Chris Schmidt and agreed that because the hearings are scheduled to begin in February, witnesses will be allowed to testify while Walker undergoes the neuropsychological testing. That decision was agreed to in the interest of time.

Shaffer's testing of Walker will be conducted and presented at a later date during the hearing.

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