A High Point man's conviction for shooting another man at least six times and killing him in 2017 will stand, the N.C. Court of Appeals has ruled.
Timothy Gerard Walker, 29, had appealed his Aug. 27, 2021, sentence to life in prison for first-degree murder in the death of 31-year-old Marcus Russell Boyce of High Point on April 9, 2017. An autopsy showed Boyce was shot in the right side of the head, chest, back, pelvis, arm and leg.
According to court records, Walker was at someone else's home that day when Boyce entered and started to argue with him. The homeowner asked that they not fight there, and Boyce asked Walker to go outside with him. Walker remained seated, however, and the two continued to argue. Boyce put his finger in Walker's face and also spit on him during the argument, records show.
Boyce told Walker, “When I see you again I’m going to lay you where you stand,” and “[w]herever I see you at, I’m gonna kill you. I don’t care if it’s with your son, at your grandma’s house, at the store,” according to court records.
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However, the appellate court noted in its ruling that Boyce did not touch Walker during the argument and "although he threatened to kill (Walker) at a later time, he expressly stated he would not do so" in the home they were in that day. He also was unarmed, court records show.
After Boyce made the threat, Walker pulled out a gun and shot Boyce multiple times. The appellate court noted that Walker bought the gun after a previous argument with Boyce "and in anticipation of a future confrontation."
After the shooting, the homeowner called 911. Walker left before police arrived, but turned himself in 18 days later.
A jury found him guilty of first-degree murder and possession of a firearm by a felon on Aug. 27, 2021.
In his appeal, he argued that the trial court erred by denying his motions to dismiss the first-degree murder charge for lack of premeditation and deliberation; giving the jury the typical instruction on what "deliberation" means; and refusing to give a “stand your ground” instruction as he had requested.
For the jury instruction, he argued jurors should have been told, “If you find that defendant shot Mr. Boyce during a passion suddenly aroused by Mr. Boyce’s assault or threatened assault upon defendant, or by his aggressive conduct toward defendant, then defendant would not be guilty of first degree murder.”
In its opinion, the appellate court said there was ample evidence of premeditation and deliberation, from the multiple shots fired, buying the gun in anticipation of a confrontation, not staying to offer aid and eluding police for 18 days, and telling his girlfriend he planned to deny being there rather than claim self-defense.
The court also ruled that the typical jury instruction on "deliberation" accurately reflected the law and evidence and did not need to be expanded upon for the jury to understand and apply the law.
Walker could not claim a "stand your ground" defense, the judges ruled, because the lethal force used was excessive compared to the only physical threat, which was being spit on.
The appeals court, which heard arguments on Sept. 20, said in its opinion released Tuesday that it found no error in the trial court's ruling and that Walker received a fair trial.