Utah’s The Spectrum newspaper reported recently that the former NASCAR Camping World Truck and open wheel Sprint Car driver pleaded guilty on Dec. 23 to two felony charges and three misdemeanors stemming from a Jan. 30, 2013 high-speed chase that led authorities through southern Nevada, Arizona and Utah at speeds in excess of 140 mph. Prosecutors dismissed three additional charges as part of a plea agreement.
The three remaining felony counts include failure to stop for police officers and possession/use of methamphetamine, each of which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. Walker is expected to be sentenced on Feb. 23.
Walker and his attorney requested multiple postponements in the case, and he failed to appear for a pair of hearings in recent weeks. After Walker failed to show for his most recent scheduled hearing – the 12th overall -- 5th District Court Judge Eric Ludlow issued an arrest warrant for Walker, mandating that he be held on a $25,000 cash-only bond. Walker’s attorney, Trevor Terry, contends that Ludlow authorized that warrant, but never issued it.
|Walker was arrested in January of 2013|
The 35-year old Walker appeared in court wearing a black suit and short haircut; a dramatic departure from the dreadlocks and baggy flannel shirt he wore during the 2013 police chase. Terry said his client has "come a long way since then," claiming that Walker has been through extensive drug rehabilitation program since his arrest. Walker also revealed that he has consulted with a neurologist due to multiple concussions suffered in racing crashes.
"It's a big difference and I feel a lot better and I'm in a lot better place," said Walker. "I just want to thank everybody who's helped me out … apologize to all the police and everybody who (were) on the road — and just let everybody know I'm doing everything I can to … be healthy so this never happens again."
Walker was suspended by NASCAR in 2007 for violating the sanctioning body’s substance abuse policy and has never reapplied for reinstatement. He ran 28 races in NASCAR’s Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series between 2003 and 2007, with a best finish of eighth in a NCWTS event at Martinsville Speedway in 2007.
Last month’s hearing does not spell the end of Walker’s legal issues. He faces additional charges in Arizona, after failing to honor the terms of a year’s probation he received as part of a separate plea deal. That probation was revoked last month and a warrant issued for his arrest. He may also face charges in his native California.
Photos: CedarCityUtah.com, StGeorgeUtah.com