Murder suspect disappears after shedding monitoring bracelet

Travaris Walker, 29, of Bull Street in Charleston, is accused of fatally shooting 25-year-old Marquis Rashad Richardson in the head in Lincolnville on Dec. 19. Photo provided.

Charleston County authorities are trying to track down an accused murderer after he shed his electronic monitoring bracelet and disappeared this week while free on bail, prosecutors said.

Travaris Walker, 29, of Bull Street in Charleston, is accused of fatally shooting 25-year-old Marquis Rashad Richardson in the head in Lincolnville on Dec. 19 after Walker and three others allegedly abducted the victim from a peninsula home.

Walker went free on $125,000 bail in late June and was placed on electronic monitoring while awaiting his murder trial, court records show.

But this week, Walker stretched the bracelet out of shape, slipped it off and went on the run, 9th Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson said.

After the monitoring company alerted her to the breach, Wilson and her staff quickly filed for an emergency hearing to get Walker’s bail revoked.

Walker’s public defender, Beattie Butler, didn’t dispute that his client and his monitoring bracelet had become separated. But he said he told the judge he had not spoken to Walker, who didn’t show for the hearing.

With little discussion, Circuit Judge Markley Dennis issued a bench warrant for Walker’s arrest.

In past years, such proceedings could sometimes take weeks to schedule. But a change in state law that went into effect this year allows authorities to press for emergency hearings for bail violators if they can show an imminent danger to the community. The hearings must be held within 48 hours of the request.

Wilson, Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen and others fought for that change in an effort to get problem offenders off the streets.

Wilson said the statute “now provides us a way to get into court on an expedited basis when we see that a defendant poses an imminent threat. This was an important step in our efforts to reform the bail bond process.”

Wilson also has been pushing for better oversight of electronic monitoring after several offenders were found freely roaming the streets around Charleston while they were supposed to be on house arrest. Three hearings have been held so far to explore those problems, and Circuit Judge Stephanie McDonald has vowed to penalize companies that don’t closely monitor and report criminal defendants’ whereabouts after they are released from jail with electronic trackers.

Walker reportedly killed Richardson after Walker was unable to retrieve some property that he believed the victim had taken from him, authorities have said. Investigators would not identify the property in question, citing the ongoing investigation in the case.

Walker, nicknamed “Smurf,” also faces a cocaine trafficking count and several other charges in connection with his Dec. 30 arrest in Charleston. Otherwise, his criminal record is rather scant in South Carolina. He was a victim, however, in a May 2007 shooting on Charleston’s West Side that left him with wrist and chest wounds, according to police.

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