A suspect in the 2016 robbery and fatal shooting of a young Mansfield father pleaded guilty Thursday to murder, leaving only rapper Tay-K and another suspect still awaiting trial in the case.
Sean Robinson, who was originally charged with capital murder in the death of Ethan Walker, pleaded guilty to murder in exchange for a 40-year prison sentence.
With credit for time served, he’ll have to serve 18 years before becoming eligible for parole.
Richard Walker, Ethan Walker’s father, said he and his wife, Roberta, were satisfied with the plea.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Star-Telegram
“It’s one more down and a couple to still go,” Richard Walker said.
Richard Walker said he gave a victim impact statement during Thursday’s brief hearing.
“This was just about wasted lives,” Richard Walker said. “The wasted lives of everyone involved. He’ll still be here when his time is served, but Ethan won’t.”
Wes Ball, Robinson’s defense attorney, said he, too, was struck by the “tragic destruction” of so many lives.
“Ethan Walker senselessly lost his life,” Ball said. “Mr. Robinson wasn’t the shooter, of course, but a very bright, young man with probably a great future if he’d applied himself in the right way. He lost his way, got with some people, and got involved in this offense and therefore his life gets destroyed. It’s just a terrible, sad thing all the way around.”
“We salvaged at least some of his life, with a plea of 40 years, rather than risk life without parole in a trial,” Ball added.
In all, seven people — three juveniles and four adults— were charged in the case.
The two adult women — 22-year-old Ariana Bharrat and Megan Holt, 21 — both cut deals with prosecutors, agreeing to testify truthfully in the upcoming capital murder trials of their co-defendants in exchange for being allowed to plead guilty to the lesser charge of aggravated robbery.
In exchange for their testimony, Bharrat will receive a 25-year prison sentenced and Holt, a 20-year sentence.
Latharian Merritt, the trigger man in Walker’s shooting, was convicted of capital murder by a jury in May. Because prosecutors had waived seeking the death penalty, he was automatically sentenced to life in prison without the chance of parole.
The sole female juvenile in the case was the only juvenile not certified to stand trial as an adult. She was found guilty by a jury of three delinquent conduct charges: capital murder and two aggravated robbery charges and sentenced in February to 20 years’ confinement.
The alleged crime
According to testimony and evidence presented in Merritt’s and the teen girl’s trials, officials contended it was the juvenile girl who first had the idea to steal drugs and money from Zachary Beloate, with whom she’d been romantically involved. Walker was staying with Beloate at his Mansfield house.
But after a failed attempt by the female suspects a month earlier, Holt testified that the female juvenile decided they needed to try again, this time with guns.
“So I called Tay-K because I knew he had guns,” Holt testified in Merritt’s trial.
Tay-K 47, whose real name is Taymor McIntyre, then enlisted the help of some of his friends — Jalen “Pimp” Bell, Merritt and Robinson — to join in the scheme, Holt testified.
Holt testified that the females visited Beloate’s house, one quietly unlocking the front door to allow their male accomplices to later barge in. The home invasion, however, revealed no drugs or money.
Walker, 21, was sitting on the floor and had given the suspects his cellphone as demanded when he was shot in the stomach by Merritt, officials say.
Beloate was also shot in the robbery but survived and ran to a neighbor’s to get help.
Other pending charges
McIntyre and Bell were on house arrest, days away from their own certifications hearings in the case, when officials say they cut off their ankle monitors and fled.
While on the run, officials allege both teens participated in the April 2017 robbery and fatal shooting of a 23-year-old photographer in San Antonio. McIntyre, according to court documents, was the alleged trigger man in the San Antonio shooting.
Both McIntyre and Bell were later arrested and certified to stand trial as adults in the Mansfield case. They’ve also been charged in the San Antonio case.
In addition, McIntyre was certified to stand trial as an adult in an aggravated robbery case, accused in the attack and robbery of Skip Pepe, at an Arlington park in May 2017.
McIntyre was also indicted, accused of having a prohibited item — a cellphone — while in jail.
McIntyre and Bell remain in jail awaiting trial.