Family Believes Death Was Murder, Not Accidental

By: Stephen McLamb
By: Stephen McLamb

Knoxville (WVLT) - The Knox County Sheriff's Department is calling the death of a man in a South Knox County pool last week an accidental drowning.

But family members of Justin Walker believe otherwise. They believe the 2002 South Doyle grad was murdered.

Justin Walker's family says the Knox County Sheriff's Office should never have closed the case so soon.

And now they're wondering if the color of his skin played a factor in that.

"We know for a fact that there is foul play in this incident,” says Deborah Porter, Justin’s aunt.

Just before Justin Walker's funeral services, family members spoke out to say they believe his death was murder, not an accident.

Walker drowned in a pool last week and the Knox County Sheriff's Department has preliminarily ruled it an accidental death.

A police report shows Walker was at an Arrowhead subdivision pool with April Dawn King, not far from her Rudder Road home on July 20th when she says he jumped in.

"Justin, of course, did not swim and if he went near a pool he would be fully clothed. He would have not got in any water on his own volition,” says Porter.

The report states King pulled Walker from the water, which the family also questions.

"How could a small frame young lady, probably didn't weight 125 pounds, lift this man out of the pool by herself?" Porter believes King wasn't alone with her nephew. "These are people that we thought he knew, or he thought he knew, but definitely we believe robbery was one of the reasons."

Sheriff J.J. Jones disagrees and says they believe King used pool instruments to get him out and there is no evidence of foul play. "We have no indication of any robbery or any motive."

NAACP president Ezra Maize questioned if race could be a factor, "We do believe that because it was an African-American young man that the sheriff's department took no interest in the facts that were presented."

"Yeah, well, I take issue with that,” Sheriff Jones says. “Each and every witness of a crime or each and every suspect is treated exactly the same."

Attempts to reach April Dawn King both at her home and on the phone were unsuccessful.

Sheriff Jones tells WVLT the case is not officially closed. He says they are still awaiting toxicology reports on the victim; those could be ready in two to three weeks.


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  • by RUDY.B Location: KNOXVILLE on Dec 6, 2007 at 10:11 PM
    All i have to say is Ive known Justin for Twenty of the 25yrs of my life. We also have been to Denver,Florida,and North Carolina together.Also pool parties and Rec. centers together.At some of these places we had alcohol and was drunk,but never ever did he go near the beach,pool or lake.I even tried to get him in the water.If a close friend of 20yrs couldn't get him in the water,then who could.The only people who are making it a race factor are racist people or guilty people . If you pay attention to family and friends comments they "are hoping race isn't a factor." To end this statement we played football with each other from pee wees to High School.I KNOW I COULD NOT PULL JWALK 6'2 225LBS OF DEAD WEIGHT OUT OF THE POOL AND LEAVE NO SCRATCHES ON HIM ANYWHERE POOL DEVICE OR NOT, NOT ONLY DO APRIL KNOW WHO HELPED HER THIS WILL HAUNT HER THE REST OF HER LIFE AND WHOEVERELSE WAS INVOLVED.SO IF YOU KNOW WHAT WENT DOWN,PLEASE LET HIS FAMILY KNOW IF NOTHINGELSE .
  • by missujustin Location: knoxville on Nov 29, 2007 at 01:44 PM
    Wow being a friend of Justin's this was extremely hard to read!! It has now been 4 months and there are still no answers. They are not pulling the race card, the family simply wants to know what happened! As would anyone who was put in a situation like this! Kristi you said something about the Shannon Christian case I am not sure if you were around or not but they pretty much had a riot in downtown Knoxville about that case! So I don't want to hear the fact that people didn't say anything about them because there were things done and said! I want to say thank you to joedirt because finally someone realizes that the family and friends can read these comments and they do hurt. I had to click out of here the first time I was reading these because of the harsh words. I applaud the family for getting the NCAAP involved in this case! I am WHITE and I want answers, and if that is the way to do it then by all means do it! I love u and miss u so much Justin! RIP #21
  • by joedirt Location: knoxville on Aug 1, 2007 at 01:03 PM
    This is for Kristi,maybe they got the NAACP involved because they needed to.If this was your family member what would you do?Whould you settle for what they said.Please people think before you write anything becuase words can also hurts the family.
  • by concerned citizen Location: knoxville on Jul 31, 2007 at 04:23 PM
    The family wants to know how someone can pull a 225lb man out of a pool with not one scratch on his body.It just doesn't add up and someone needs to come forward so this family can put this to rest. Funny how she can't be reached for comment huh! Why do people find it so hard to believe foul play when it comes to African-Americans.Oh yell, that's right, they've always gotten proper treatment in this country--not. Get with the program and do the right thing already. Investigate and put this to a close,
  • by Kristi Location: Knoxville on Jul 31, 2007 at 03:13 PM
    Actually on one news station the family did say something about race and hoping it was not a factor. And how come if they don't think it is racial, they got the NAACP involved. HMMM.
  • by Shayla Location: Knoxville on Jul 30, 2007 at 02:38 PM
    This is not a race issue and i do not know why yall are saying it is because his family did not say it was!! I been knowing Justin and his family every since i was a baby!! We know that justin could not swim and he would not go in no pool! If any black person dont know how to swim they would not go in the water.THIS IS NOT A RACE ISSUE AND THE FAMILY DIDNT SAY IT WAS!! We just want to know the TRUTH about what really happend to Justin!!
  • by Kristi Location: Knoxville on Jul 30, 2007 at 01:18 PM
    I am so sick of hearing blacks "CRY" everytime something happens to them. They always play the "RACE CARD". Get over it already. YOU didn't say anything when Shannon Christian and Christopher Newsome were tortured, raped and mutilated by 4 blacks. Nope, that was different. By the way, if he couldn't swim, why go to a pool in the first place. Wrong place at the wrong time ever ring a bell. I would never go somewhere I didn't feel comfortable. Get over it already, it was nothing more than a tragic accident. May he rest in peace.
  • by misty Location: maryville on Jul 29, 2007 at 10:13 AM
    The family said no such thing as this was races,they said that thay hope that race plays no part in it.Yes people need to be aheld accountable for thier actions,weather they be black or white GOD SEES NO COLOR.
  • by ernest Location: knoxville on Jul 28, 2007 at 10:41 PM
    People should be held accountable for unfounded accusations. Police officrs have families that are hurt by such sophistry.
  • by june Location: knoxville on Jul 28, 2007 at 03:07 PM
    THE FAMILY IS'NT PUTTING THE RACE CARD IN IT THEY JUST WON'T TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENED.IF IT WERE YOUR FAMILY WOULD YOU JUST SETLLE FOR IT WAS ACCCIDENTAL.
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