It was standing room only in the Grays Harbor County District Courtroom in Montesano before James D. Walker of Hoquiam was walked in by Grays Harbor County Jail staff.
Walker, 31, has been charged with second-degree homicide in connection with the incident at a campground in the Donkey Creek area north of Hoquiam on May 27 in which two young men were run over by a truck, killing 20-year-old Jimmy Smith-Kramer of Taholah and injuring 19-year-old Harvey Anderson of Aberdeen.
Walker also is being charged with vehicular assault, hit and run-death, and hit and run-injury.
At the preliminary hearing, Grays Harbor County District Court Judge Kyle Imler set bail at $750,000.
County Prosecutor Katie Svoboda had asked that bail be set at the minimum of $500,000 and requested that Walker not be released until another hearing could be held. Svoboda said she believed Walker to be a flight risk.
“He also, after the commission of the crime, went to great lengths, including altering his appearance and altering the vehicle in significant ways, to avoid detection,” Svoboda said. “Based on the fact that he’s facing a Class A felony, I believe he has a motivation to flee.”
Svoboda noted that Walker has prior convictions of theft and reckless driving.
Walker’s court-appointed attorney Geoff Arnold said Walker disputes the notion that he is a flight risk.
If Walker is released he will have several restrictions, including no contact with the family of the victims or witnesses.
During the court appearance, Walker sat and stood quietly, leaning over once to whisper to his attorney. The full courtroom, too, sat quietly. Some in the crowd held up their phones to take pictures.
Following the appearance, many of the crowd hugged each other before leaving the Grays Harbor County courthouse.
Walker’s arrest on May 30 came about as a result of a tip developed by a Hoquiam Police officer who was familiar with the suspect, Grays Harbor CountyUndersheriff David Pimentel said in a press release. The investigation continues, he added, and involves deputies from the Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Office, the Grays Harbor County Drug Task Force, the Hoquiam Police Department and the Quinault Indian Nation Police.
The investigation revealed the identity of three passengers in the vehicle used to run over the victims: a 27-year-old Hoquiam woman, a 29-year-old Hoquiam man and a 30-year-old Hoquiam woman.
A white 4-by-4 pickup truck has been located and seized as evidence, Pimentel said.
An earlier Sheriff’s report said the suspect was seen driving recklessly doing doughnuts on a gravel bar at the Donkey Creek campgrounds Saturday morning at about 1:30 shortly before the incident occurred. Witnesses said a group of 10 or so people were there and there was an altercation about the way Walker was driving.
After that report was released publicly, the Quinault Indian Nation also issued a news release to add additional details. Witnesses said Kramer saved Anderson’s life by pushing him away from the oncoming vehicle and took the brunt of the hit himself, the Quinault release said.
A Quinault Nation statement said Walker yelled racial slurs at the campers, but sheriff’s authorities say that in their interviews with witnesses that did not come up.
In a statement issued Wednesday, Quinault Nation President Fawn Sharp said, “It is not unusual for such confusion to arise in investigations involving racism, which could potentially lead to ‘hate crime’ charges in such cases. There were Quinault tribal members on the scene of the crime who did report to us that such racist slurs did occur. The report by the Grays Harbor Sheriff’s Office that they had no evidence of it does not make it untrue. We need to wait and see what fleshes out in the prosecution process. The important thing is that the suspect has been arrested. It does not mean that we can stop being concerned about racist behavior, which we have unfortunately experienced in far too many incidents through the years. But it does provide some degree of closure, and now this outstanding young man can be laid to rest.”
Both Smith-Kramer and Anderson were initially treated at Grays Harbor Community Hospital before being taken to Tacoma General, where Smith-Kramer died at about 10 p.m. on Sunday. Anderson, according to the criminal complaint filed in District Court, suffered chest injuries including a broken rib and cracked sternum.
The complaint states Walker told investigators he was confronted by the campers.
Walker’s next court date for a preliminary hearing is scheduled for 1 p.m. on June 28.