Ethan Walker was a 21-year-old father who was murdered during a home invasion and robbery. Rapper Tay-K was found guilty in his murder Friday.
Ethan Matthew Walker was shot to death during a robbery gone awry. Tay-K, whose real name is Taymore McIntyre, was found guilty of murder in Walker’s death following a trial. McIntyre was sentenced to 55 years in prison July 23, 2019.
Walker’s father, Richard Walker, took the stand after the verdict was read and thanked the jury. He said he hates Tay-K for using his son’s death to make a profit.
“I have tried to live a good life and I know hate is a very negative emotion but right now there are three people I hate,” he said, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “One is the planner, one is the person who pulled the trigger and one is the person who profited off of this and saw this as a career move.
“Every lyric to ‘The Race’ is stained with my son’s blood. Every ‘free Tay-K’ T-shirt that was ever sold has my son’s blood on it,” he said, referring to McIntyre’s platinum hit about his run from police.
He said he believed the rapper fled to Elizabethtown, New Jersey because it was close to 88 Classic, which signed a deal with McIntyre after he was arrested.
“You’re still here. My son is gone. He’s a box of ashes sitting in my living room,” the father said to McIntyre in the courtroom.
He said he will be forever impacted by McIntyre’s actions, along with his wife, Walker’s young daughter, Aalayah, Walker’s girlfriend, and Zachary Beloate, who was also shot but survived. Beyond those, he said “there’s an entire group of unnamed victims here.”
“Those victims are the children — fifth, sixth, seventh grade, high school kids. Those victims are the children who give a criminal celebrity status,” he said.
Walker’s mother, Roberta Walker, recalled telling Aalayah “about the bad people that made her Daddy go to heaven.”
“Every time we look up it seems like we’re seeing news about the song, seeing praise about the song and seeing you literally dancing on Ethan’s grave,” she said. “But you’ve got enough attention.”
She said in previous testimony her son doted on his daughter, who was only 3 when her dad died.
“I had to tell her …. bad people came and hurt her daddy and that’s why they made her daddy go to heaven,” Roberta Walker said. “From time to time, I have to explain, ‘You still can’t see your daddy. No, Daddy doesn’t have a cellphone in heaven. You can’t talk to your daddy, but Daddy is watching over you.’”
Walker’s love for his daughter, Aalayah McKell Walker, was immortalized on his Instagram page. “Proud father of the beautiful Aalayah Mckell,” he wrote in the first sentence of his bio.
He shared more photos of the little girl than anything else on his account. The love between daddy and daughter was apparent in his pictures, which always showed a beaming little girl and a loving look in her father’s eyes. In captions, he called her “lil beauty” and “princess.” He marveled at how much she’d grown, and announced when she was at his home. He’d share photos of mundane activities like brushing their teeth together, and memorable moments like the little girl lying across her father’s chest. He shared a video when his daughter got a new bike, and photos of the two making matching expressions. “I just love being a daddy,” he wrote alongside a “throwback” picture of the girl as a baby. “A daughter’s love is irreplaceble,” he wrote in December 2014.
“I love my time with you” he wrote alongside a picture of the little girl in May.
The man who was found guilty in the murder of the young father gained popularity and became a viral sensation while he was on the run from the police. McIntyre released a hit single, “The Race,” while on the run. Social media was flooded with fans calling for officials to “free Tay K.” The outcry and celebrity status prompted support for Ethan Walker and his family, reminding fans to acknowledge the victim.
A Twitter user wrote, “In the midst of this Tay K situation pls take time to remember the victims & their families.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Ethan Walker Was A Victim of a Murder Involving Rapper Tay-K
Ethan Walker was killed during a home invasion and robbery involving rapper Tay-K, whose real name is Taymore McIntyre. The 19 year old was found guilty of murder and related charges Friday.
Walker was killed during a robbery gone awry which involved multiple co-conspirators. He died in Forth Worth, Texas July 27, 2016.
McIntyre was also found guilty of aggravated robbery in the shooting and robbery of Zachary Beloate. Beloate was injured but survived.
McIntyre pleaded guilty on Monday to two counts of aggravated robbery, related to two other victims in the house. He pleaded not guilty in the death of Walker and in the wounding of Beloate.
The jury deliberated for four hours over two days before returning the guilty verdict, according to the Star-Telegram. McIntyre faces five to 99 years or life in prison on each count. A guilty verdict in capital murder would have carried an automatic life sentence. The jury is continuing its deliberations in the sentencing. The sentencing phase began after the guilty verdict was read.
McIntyre’s attorneys argued McIntyre had no part in the death of Walker, saying co-conspirator Latharian Merritt acted alone in the killing. Jeff Kearney, Reagan Wynn and Rhett Parham contended McIntyre only participated in the robbery and was not armed.
“It wasn’t part of the plan. The plan was robbery. Not killing,” Kearney told jurors doing closing arguments, according to the Star-Telegram.
Prosecutor Jim Hudson told the jury “red flags” indicating the robbery would turn deadly were “right in front of [McIntyre’s] face. He said the rapper recruited Merritt. Merritt talked about being “trigger happy” before the robbery. The prosecutor went on to say McIntyre told an accomplice Merritt liked to shoot, the Star-Telegram said.
“He knew what the risks were when he got into this,” Hudson told jurors. “He knew what Larry Merritt might do. It’s not reasonable to say otherwise.”
McIntyre and co-conspirator Latharian Merritt planned to rob Zachary Beloate of drugs and money. Walker was shot once in the stomach after saying he did not have any drugs, CBS reported. Beloate was also shot and injured, but survived.
Walker’s girlfriend, Alyssa Rowell, was also in the home when the 21-year-old father was gunned down. Walker was playing a video game when a masked man dressed in black burst into the house, demanding guns and money, she testified.
A Twitter user wrote, “To clarify, Ethan Walker was NOT in any gang.Tay K & his crew were planning to rob Zachary Boloate bc they thought he had weed. Ethan, his close friend, was staying over the night playing video games when they broke in. When Ethan said he didn’t have any drugs they shot him.”
2. Ethan Walker Was ‘A Doting Father’
Walker was described as “a doting father” to his daughter, Aalayah McKell Walker, who was just 3 years old when her father died. Walker’s mother, Roberta Walker, said the little girl struggles to understand her dad is never coming home. She says she wants to call him in heaven.
“I had to tell her …. bad people came and hurt her daddy and that’s why they made her daddy go to heaven,” Roberta Walker said at a hearing, the Star-Tribune reported. “From time to time, I have to explain, ‘You still can’t see your daddy. No, Daddy doesn’t have a cellphone in heaven. You can’t talk to your daddy, but Daddy is watching over you.’”
He often shared photos of his little girl on Instagram. The love between the father and daughter was apparent.
On Fathers Day, he shared a photo of the little girl posing with a hat. He shared a photo of the little girl smiling, laying on his chest. He shared video when she got a bike and a photo when he just thought she looked especially pretty. “Aalayah looks soo pretty today,” he wrote, along with a photo of the beaming child in a skirt, shirt and dress shoes. “She’s begging me to take pictures” he wrote alongside a picture of them both sticking out their tongues.
In June 2015, he shared a photo of himself holding Aalayah with no shortage of exclamation points, writing, “She’s here!!!” The next night he shared a photo of them brushing their teeth together.
“I love my time with you” he wrote alongside a picture of the little girl in May. “Best person in the world,” he captioned a photo of Aalayah earlier that day.
A few months before his death, he shared a photo of Aalayah and wrote, “My babygirl is getting so da*n big idk what to do.”
He also shared a photo of the girl with his car, saying she loved the car as much as he did.
He shared a photo in September 2015 of the two together, commenting on how much she’d grown.
“It just amazes me each time I look at this!!!” he wrote. “My Princess. Is growing up so Da*n fast. She will be 3. At the end of November I’m sooo excited!! And then next thing I know it she’ll be starting sports (soccer) lol”
He also shared a photo of his daughter on a lunch date, writing “Lunch with Bae,” daddy and daughter posing with matching expressions.
“I love her soo much only female I truly need,” he wrote in April.
A college fund was set up for Aalayah at a local bank, his obituary said.
3. Ethan Walker Was a Foster Child Who Was Later Adopted
Ethan Walker was a foster child who found a “forever family” with Roberta and Richard Walker and Adasu Martin, his obituary said.
He was born August 30, 1994 in Dallas, Texas. He lived in a “happy home” with John and Sara Mota and their “beautiful children” until he was adopted by the Walkers at age 7.
He had biological brothers and sisters he never met, Roberta Walker testified during a court appearance for an accomplice in the murder.
“They got their first look at him in the casket,” Roberta Walker testified.
His brothers and sisters were listed in his obituary as Nicky, John, Jr., Sarah, Alisa, Claudia, Palaur and Dominic.
Walker worked in construction, according to his Instagram profile. His obituary said he “had a beautiful, gentle spirit,” “loved the people in his life, hockey, friends, and especially his baby girl, Aalayah.”
4. A Fifth-Grade Boy Said If He Had One Wish, It Would Be That Ethan Walker Was Still Alive
A fifth grade boy at a Mansfield school district wrote during a class project that if he could have one wish granted, it would be for Ethan Walker to still be alive, the Star-Tribune reported.
Ethan Walker’s father, Richard Walker, was working as a substitute teacher for 5th and 6th grade students at the school district. One assignment asked them to fill out a prompt on an index card beginning, “If I had one wish, I would wish ….”
Richard Walker shared the index card in testimony during a court appearance for one of McIntyre’s accomplices, a teenage girl. The boy had seen the story on the news and recognized and empathized with the substitute teacher.
“There was one boy … in fifth grade who wrote, ‘If I had one wish, I would wish for Mr. Walker’s son to be alive,” he testified. “He had seen us on television when we were interviewed. This is from a fifth-grader with a conscience and character.”
5. Public Calls For Tay-K Fans To Remember Victim After Rapper’s Viral Success
Social media was flooded with a cry to remember Ethan Walker in response to a demand to “free Tay-K.” The rapper became a viral sensation after releasing a hit single, “The Race,” while on the run from police. The publicity surrounding the case only increased his popularity and success as a rapper. “The Race” reached No. 44 on the Billboard Hot 100, and was remixed by several artists, CBS reported
Texas State District Judge Wayne Salvant was frustrated by the rapper’s popularity and success. Salvant was the judge who denied the rapper’s bond in March.
“It’s my understanding that people throughout this country have ‘Free Tay-K’ signs up or ‘goto’ funds to fund his defense and this court has a problem with that. I don’t know what this country has become when people can go out and allegedly commit heinous crimes and be glorified for it,” he said.
In response to Tay K’s popularity, many took to Twitter to remind the public of Ethan Walker. One Twitter account, RIP_Ethan_Walker, shared a flurry of tweets of people writing “Who is T Kay?” and shared Judge Salvant’s quote.
“the fact that people still saying free tay k is disgusting,” one person wrote on Twitter, retweeting a photo of Ethan Walker paired with words from his mother about the “doting father.” Another Twitter user shared the same photo, writing, In the midst of this Tay K situation pls take time to remember the victims & their families.”
“Roberta Walker described her son as loving and gentle,” it said. “She said he doted on his young daughter – only 3 when her father died – always insisting on being the one to change the girl’s diapers and giving her baths when she was at the family’s home. She laughed as Hudson, the prosecutor, showed her a photo of her son and the girl – among the last photos the daddy and daughter took together.”