Ex-NFL star Javon Walker testifies he’s changed his ways since Las Vegas robbery

By Ken Ritter, AP
Thursday, April 15, 2010

Ex-NFL star says he’s changed since Vegas robbery

LAS VEGAS — Former NFL player Javon Walker testified Thursday that he’s changed his ways since he was robbed of diamond jewelry and thousands of dollars, and left badly injured a block off the Las Vegas Strip almost two years ago.

“You’ve made some changes in your life since the events of June 16, 2008?” prosecutor Joshua Tomsheck asked the 31-year-old former Oakland Raiders wide receiver.

“Lots of changes,” Walker responded from the witness stand where he admitted “bad judgment” in a drunken state put him in a vehicle with two men he didn’t know after a night club-hopping in Las Vegas

“Do you still wear the same kind of flashy jewelry?” Tomsheck asked.

“No I don’t,” Walker replied.

“Do you continue to spend large amounts of money at nightclubs?”

“No I don’t.”

Moments earlier, defendant Deshawn Lamont Thomas’ lawyer, Betsy Allen, lost a bid to ask Walker about the New Year’s Day 2007 slaying of a former Denver Broncos teammate, Darrent Williams, in a drive-by shooting outside a downtown Denver nightclub.

A Denver gang member was convicted last month in that case. Williams died in Walker’s arms in the back of a stretch Hummer limousine after a night that included spraying champagne inside the nightclub.

“The incident in Denver is irrelevant and you’ll move on,” Clark County District Court Judge Doug Smith chided Allen when she used the word “Denver” after asking Walker about spraying champagne around a Las Vegas nightclub in the hours before he was robbed.

“No,” Walker was saying as Tomsheck objected and the judge stopped the proceedings to call lawyers to the bench, “the incident in Denver had nothing to do with me.”

Blocked from talking about Walker’s partying past, Allen grilled Walker about inconsistencies in various statements about the Las Vegas robbery: to police while he was still hospitalized, to a grand jury in August 2008, and in testimony Wednesday before the trial jury hearing Thomas’ case.

Thomas, a 42-year-old multiple-time convicted felon, has pleaded not guilty to charges including first-degree kidnapping, battery with substantial bodily harm and conspiracy. He could face life in prison if found guilty.

Under cross-examination by Allen, Walker conceded Thursday that he was so drunk that he stumbled and fell several times, and that his recollections were hazy about the hours before he was robbed.

But Walker defended the specificity of his testimony about a man sitting behind him in a Range Rover putting an arm around his throat and pulling at his 2-carat diamond earrings — even if he didn’t remember how he wound up unconscious in the vacant parking lot of an abandoned condominium complex.

He also said he would have remembered if the broken facial bones and damaged teeth he received were from a fall in a club, at a valet entrance or opening the door of a moving vehicle during a trip from the Hard Rock to the Bellagio resort, where he was staying.

“Do you remember anything about the ride back from the Hard Rock to the Bellagio? Anything?”

No, Walker said before adding, “I didn’t fall on my face. I would have remembered that.”

Walker testified he never paid much attention to insurance claims filed on the jewelry he lost that night. Allen said the total was $75,000.

Walker also conceded that after playing blackjack and tipping bartenders, waiters, a deejay and others he couldn’t exactly say the value of cash and casino chips in his pockets.

Trial is expected to take more than a week, and Tomsheck has told jurors they’ll hear testimony from the man who was driving the Range Rover, 32-year-old former co-defendant Arfat Abdo Fadel.

Fadel pleaded guilty last week to lesser charges in return for a chance at release from state prison after between two and 15 years.

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