I-Team Investigation: Serial drunk driver checks into rehab but ditches court

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by WHAS11

WHAS11.com

Posted on February 8, 2012 at 7:42 PM

(WHAS11) --WHAS11's I-Team investigated the case of Rickie Lee Walker, a man still behind the wheel, after 15 D.U.I.s.

He was supposed to be in court Wed. where his probation could have been revoked, but he was a no show. He was scheduled for a probation revocation hearing involving a drug charge.

Rickie Lee Walker's court transcripts show one continuance after another. He received one in late Jan. on his latest D.U.I. case, and another one Monday.

Walker's attorney said he had somewhere else to go instead.

In late Jan. WHAS11 caught Rickie Lee Walker, Jr. behind the wheel of his parents' car, even though his license had been suspended after his 15th drunk driving arrest.

Court records show Walker has managed to stay out of prison, despite being arrested for drunk driving again, and again and again over the past 25 years.

“Mr. Walker has gone in-patient at The Brook and is not present here today,” said Walker’s attorney Mark Gaston.

The Brook is a substance abuse treatment facility in Metro Louisville.

Walker was in a felony diversion program for selling crack, but has been arrested twice for D.U.I. since getting that break.

“Mr. Walker put himself in treatment probably so he wouldn't go into custody today,” Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Cristal Fox said in court. “He went to treatment last night. It's very convenient. It's the day before his appearance.”

“I think that this was a ploy to keep him out of jail,” said Angela Fowler, Walker’s sister, who first contacted us about her brother.

She doesn't believe he takes recovery seriously.

“He has been in rehab multiple times. He has been kicked out of multiple rehab programs because he's non-compliant,” Fowler said.

“I would hope that in these situations, they will hold him accountable,” said Kristen White, a victim’s advocate for Mothers Against Drunk Driving. “The problem becomes  also that even holding him accountable, prosecutors have to follow the law.”

Under current Kentucky law, someone has to be convicted four times in five years for D.U.I. to become a felony. So far, Walker has managed to space his convictions far enough apart to avoid that.

His sister said that Walker has also played the court system, changing attorneys and getting multiple continuances, as he did two weeks ago, then on Monday, three days after our first story ran.

Walker got another break today, after the prosecutor asked for an arrest warrant.

“Mr. Walker has obligations to this court. He's got serious allegations concerning his conduct while he was on probation. So he needs to be here at 9 o'clock Friday morning. If he's not here, the warrant's going to be issued,” said Circuit Court Judge Brian Edwards.

We'll be there on Friday to see if Walker shows up for court.

His sister hopes his case will help convince state lawmakers to push for tougher  D.U.I. penalties and a better way to track multiple offenders.

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