County of Conviction: Los Angeles
Convicted of: First Degree Murder, Attempted Murder
Sentence: 50 Years-to-Life
Date of Conviction: August 14, 2006
In late October of 2005, Jason Walton got into a confrontation with 14-year old Edward Williams while visiting his girlfriend. While not affiliated with the gang itself, Williams was friends with Rollin’ 40’s members. The Rollin 40’s were an enemy of the Rollin 30’s gang, which was an ally of the Mansfield Gangster Crips. Jason Walton was a member of the Mansfield Gangster Crips. During the week of Halloween, Williams had a similar confrontation with two other men who were also members of the Rollin 30’s gang.
On November 13, 2005, Williams, along with his friend William Cox, went to a local street carnival to meet some girls. Williams and Cox encountered seven or eight men, their faces obscured by their hooded jackets, pulled up. One of the men, whom Williams claimed was Walton, walked over to one of the girls the two boys were speaking to and hugged her. The man put his hands in his pockets, and Williams heard the sound of a gunshot. Cox was shot first and when Williams tried to flee, he was shot too. Williams survived, but Cox would later die from his wound.
This was a case of mistaken identity. According to Williams, who is 6’2”, the shooter was considerably shorter than him even while the shooter stood on a curb. Jason Walton is only an inch shorter than Williams, far taller than the shooter described by Williams. In addition, surveillance footage from a nearby Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles showed Walton wearing a completely different set of clothes then the shooter, moments before and after the shooting took place.
Richard Gray, a carnival ride operator, did not see the shooting directly, but did see a man, whom he later identified as Walton, running away from the crime scene. The man he described was only 5’4’’, a height similar to the one presented by Williams, and, like Williams, the description did not match Walton at all.
At the time of the shooting, Walton was at a Roscoe’s, 3.5 miles away from the scene of the crime. Walton was captured on Roscoe’s security footage. His identity was corroborated by both Ronaldo Dervin, who he had known for four years, and Nikko Deloney, a certified gang intervention specialist who had known Walton his whole life.
The cell phone Walton used registered 13 calls on the tower two blocks from the Roscoe’s between 7:09 p.m. and 8:04 p.m. Surveillance video showed Walton making a phone call at 7:18 p.m. However, his cell phone record indicated that no calls were made at that specific time; the closest calls were made at 7:13 p.m. and 7:21 pm. This detail is absolutely critical, as it means the camera timestamp is either five minutes fast or three minutes slow as compared to the cell phone time. Someone called 911 at 7:01 p.m. to report the shooting. Police officers testified that Roscoe’s was a six minute drive from the shooting location.
If the camera was indeed five minutes fast, then Walton was on tape during the time of the 911 call. One man cannot be at two different places at the same time, so, if this scenario is true, Walton could not be the shooter.
If the camera was three minutes slow, Walton would have had to drive to the carnival, change his clothes, meet up with the other men, and approach and shoot Williams and Cox within eight minutes. Walton would then only have nine minutes to return to the get-away car, change clothes once again, return to Roscoe’s to appear on the surveillance tape, and then make phone calls to register at the cell phone tower by 7:09. The California Innocence Project tested the route Walton would have had to take and found it was impossible to complete it in the timeline the prosecution claimed.
A private investigator interviewed another carnival operator, Kristofer Green, who was also present at the scene of the crime. Green stated he was closer to the shooting than Gray and he claimed Gray could not have viewed the shooter or the victims from his location. According to Green, Gray was at least 15 yards away and his view was obstructed by portable toilets and a fence. Gray also told Green that he was pressured to make an identification by the police.
The California Innocence Project’s investigation into the case is ongoing and plans are being made to interview possible witnesses, as well as Williams himself. With enough time and hard work, the California Innocence Project may be able to prove Walton’s innocence and free him from his wrongful imprisonment.