County of Conviction: Los Angeles
Convicted of: First Degree Murder, Attempted Murder
Sentence: 50 Years to Life
Date of Conviction: August 14, 2006
Cost of Wrongful Incarceration*: $1,005,639 and counting
*According to the Legislative Analyst’s Office 2018-19 annual costs per CA inmate
In 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, Edward 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, Edward had a similar confrontation with two other men who were also members of the Rollin 30’s gang.
On November 13, 2005, Edward, along with his friend William Cox, went to a local street carnival to meet some girls. Edward and William encountered seven or eight men, their faces obscured by their hooded jackets. One of the men, whom Edward claimed was Jason, 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 Edward heard the sound of a gunshot. William was shot first and when Edward tried to flee, he was shot too. Edward survived, but William would later die from his wound.
According to Edward, 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 Edward, far taller than the shooter described by Edward. In addition, surveillance footage from a nearby Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles showed Jason Walton wearing a completely different set of clothes than 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 Jason, running away from the crime scene. The man he described was only 5’4’’, a height similar to the one presented by Edward, and, like Edward, the description did not match Jason at all.
At the time of the shooting, Jason was at a Roscoe’s, 3.5 miles away from the scene of the crime. Jason 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 Jason Walton his whole life.
The cell phone Jason 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 Jason 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 Jason 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, Jason could not be the shooter.
If the camera was three minutes slow, Jason would have had to drive to the carnival, change his clothes, meet up with the other men, and approach and shoot Edward and William within eight minutes. Jason 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 Jason 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. Kristofer stated he was closer to the shooting than Richard Gray and he claimed Richard could not have viewed the shooter or the victims from his location. According to Kristofer, Richard was at least 15 yards away and his view was obstructed by portable toilets and a fence. Richard also told Kristofer 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 Edward himself. With enough time and hard work, the California Innocence Project may be able to prove Jason Walton’s innocence and free him from his wrongful imprisonment.