Soldiers Face Judge in Magazine Theft Case
HENDERSON COUNTY, Tenn.- Three of the five men accused of stealing 798 high capacity 30 round M-4 military magazines from the Lexington National Guard Armory went before a judge, Tuesday.
National Guardsmen SSG Richard B. Walker, 42, SPC Jeremy E. Camper, 32 and PFC Johnathan Walker, 38, entered a plea of not guilty to charges of felony theft over $1,000 from a building.
"They was just clean cut young looking men just looking at them you wouldn't think they would do something," said Emily Metcalf.
Guardsmen SPC Ronald G. Clark Jr., 38 and SPC Ryan Bromley, 24, who are also charged with felony theft, both waived their rights to an appearance. Although the men were not in court, the attorneys representing them also entered in pleas of not guilty.
"It accomplishes nothing to have the defendant here at the arraignment all the court wants to know is what the plea is, when we will be back for a preliminary hearing," said Attorney Steve Milam, representing Ronald Clark.
Lexington Police confirmed that the magazines taken belong to M-4 semi-automatic military style rifles used by the military and law enforcement. The magazines can also be used with other semi- automatic rifles and are high in demand. Police said nearly all of the magazines with the exception of a few have been recovered.
Investigators said it was Johnathan Walker's attorney, Taylor Hughes who returned 200 of the stolen Magazines that were in client's possession.
"Mr. Walker knew where some of the magazines were and upon a call from Lexington Police Department, he wanted to fully cooperate to get them back," said Attorney Taylor Hughes, representing Johnathan Walker.
Investigators said the estimated street value of the magazines taken is well over $20,000 and that the charges reflected the cost to the victim. Since the government spends $9 per magazine, the reported value of the property is $7,429.38.
"It is a disgrace to the National Guard because they are serving our country. They are supposed to be standing up for our country not doing something illegal," said Sheri Read.
Hughes told WBBJ 7 Eyewitness News that his client Johnathan Walker has received a lot of community support from Bells, where he is a police officer. He is currently on administrative leave, with pay pending the investigation. Hughes said Walker is cooperating with authorities in their investigation.
"I mean stolen property can end up on the hands of anyone but just because that stolen property is in those hands does not necessarily
mean that you are guilty of theft."
The next scheduled court appearance for all five guardsmen is on April 2 where they will have their preliminary hearing.