Man convicted of kidnapping, robbing, beating former Raiders player Javon Walker
April 23, 2010 - 1:59 pm
A Clark County jury Friday convicted one of two men accused of accosting and robbing former Oakland Raiders wide receiver Javon Walker after a night of partying and inebriation in June 2008.
Deshawn Thomas, 42, was found guilty of six felonies including first-degree kidnapping, robbery and battery after the two-week trial that featured testimony from Walker and Thomas’ co-defendant in the case.
Thomas faces five years to life in prison and prosecutors hope to slap him with a habitual criminal tag that would further extend his prison sentence. A sentencing hearing was scheduled for June 23 before District Judge Doug Smith.
The jury left off the kidnapping and battery charge, an enhancement of substantial bodily harm which would have increased Thomas’ potential sentence.
Authorities said Thomas masterminded the robbery after spotting a drunken Walker at the Hard Rock Hotel, following him to the Bellagio, and then robbing him.
His co-defendant, Arfat Fadel, 32, pleaded guilty days before the trial to robbery, second-degree kidnapping and conspiracy to commit robbery.
Fadel testified against Thomas, fingering him as the man who struck Walker and robbed him of more than $100,000 in jewelry, cash and casino chips.
After he finished testifying a week ago, Walker told the Review-Journal that Thomas would be convicted and justice would prevail.
He said the two defendants need to be punished harshly for their crimes. “Guys like that, you don’t know if they change or not,” Walker said, adding the two defendants need to spend a lengthy time in prison “to think about what (they’ve) done wrong.”
Walker was found unconscious with facial injuries and a concussion in a driveway near Koval Lane and Winnick Avenue. He was robbed of at least $3,000 in cash, $4,000 in casino chips and $100,000 in jewelry, including a diamond-studded chain and watch and two 2-carat diamond earrings, according to testimony.
Prosecutor Nell Keenan said, “We’re pleased with the verdict. We think it’s an appropriate verdict.”
Meanwhile, defense attorney Betsy Allen called the trial a “circus.”
Within seven days, Allen said, she plans to file a motion for a new trial based on a multitude of legal issues. One issue was when prosecutors showed the jury a photo of Thomas in which he appears to be throwing a punch with his left hand. Allen said prosecutors’ description of what happened introduced a prior bad act without a proper legal hearing.
Prosecutor Joshua Tomsheck said during closing arguments that the photo showed Thomas’ throwing a punch with his left arm, which explained why Walker’s injuries were on the right side of his head.
At the time, Smith said Tomsheck’s description of the photo was fair.
Evidence presented at the trial included overwhelming amounts of casino security video footage showing Thomas and Fadel following Walker before the robbery.
Despite not knowing Thomas or Fadel, Walker said he got into an SUV with them because he believed they were going to take him to meet up with his friends at a nightclub across the street from the Bellagio.
He described that decision as “poor judgment.” A blood-alcohol level test would later show that Walker was nearly four times the legal limit for driving, hours after the assault.
Defense attorneys tried to use cell phone records and a receipt from a bar to show that Thomas could not have attacked Walker because, 10 minutes after the robbery, he was at a Timbers bar 20 miles away.
They also tried to discredit Fadel’s testimony by suggesting that he lied in order to get a “sweatheart” deal from prosecutors. Fadel faces two to 15 years in prison as part of his plea deal.
The robbery occurred while Walker was visiting Las Vegas after signing a six-year, $55 million contract with the Raiders.
Walker was released by the Raiders last month after two fruitless seasons with the team.
Walker said he will continue to come to Las Vegas despite the incident.
“I’m not going to let two guys like that ruin my fun. That type of incident could’ve happened anywhere in the country. It just so happens that it happened in Vegas,” he said.
Walker testified during the trial that since the attack he has changed his habits when going out and no longer wears gaudy jewelry or flash his cash.
In the meantime, Thomas earlier in the week was sentenced to two to five years in prison for stealing a tourist’s watch about two weeks before Walker was robbed.
At the time of the two incidents, Thomas was out on bail on charges he was pimping out a 15-year-old California girl. A trial in that case is scheduled for May, according to court records.
Contact reporter Francis McCabe at email@example.com or 702-380-1039.