Jury weighs verdict in Internet luring trial
A Mesa County jury today will resume deliberations in the Internet luring trial of former Grand Junction High School Activities Director Johnnie Walker.
Walker, 51, is charged with attempted Internet luring of a child and attempted child enticement.
Walker’s attorney, Colleen Scissors, told the jury during opening statements that Walker would take the stand, but he did not testify Thursday. The defense rested after brief testimony from Denny Squibb, a friend of Walker’s for 20 years and retired School District 51 athletics coach.
Squibb was one of two witnesses who vouched for Walker’s character.
“He’s about as honest an individual as I’ve ever come into contact with, honest to a fault sometimes,” Squibb told the jury.
That assessment contrasted with closing arguments from Deputy District Attorney David Waite, who suggested Walker over three weeks in March 2007 used a Grand Junction High School computer to methodically groom for a future sexual encounter a girl he believed to be 14 years old. The meeting never happened, and the person Walker chatted with online was Jason Steitle, a teacher in San Antonio, Texas.
Walker at one point in the sexually explicit, 33-page, Internet chat log talked about wanting to take the girl “up to a cabin in the woods” after blindfolding her and bring her back to Grand Junction.
Walker has insisted he believed he was chatting with his former girlfriend, Greta Pesek.
During his closing argument, Waite challenged jurors to look at the chat log.
“Look for any signs he thought he was chatting with anyone other than (a 14-year-old girl).
There are none,” Waite said. “When he got caught, he came up with anything he could think of.”
Scissors, during her closing argument, questioned Steitle’s motives for getting involved with Walker. She noted that testimony from a computer expert suggested Internet chat logs can be altered after the fact.
“There’s a reason our society must not tolerate Internet stings by people without training,”
Scissors told the jury. “(Steitle) is not a law enforcement officer. He can’t be trusted. His motives can’t be trusted.”
Walker’s jury received the case around 3 p.m. Thursday and went home around 5 p.m.