Kenneth Abel Jr. accepts second-degree murder plea, sentencing postponed

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 13, 2018

SALISBURY — Kenneth Abel Jr., one of three people charged in 2014 in the murder of two Spencer men, has accepted a plea deal but will be sentenced at a later date, court officials said Wednesday.

Abel, 32, appeared in a Rowan County Superior Courtroom with his attorney, James Davis of Salisbury, to formally enter a plea of guilty on two counts of second-degree murder. He’s been in the Rowan County jail under a $3 million bond since his Oct. 15, 2014, arrest.

Law enforcement authorities said Abel and a cousin, Darius Abel, and James Robinson burst through the door of a Fifth Street home. Antonio “Tony” Walker was there with his uncle James “Junior” Walker; his mother, Angie Walker White; and his sister, Jasmine. The mother and daughter had just returned from a movie.

All three men wore gorilla masks, gloves and camouflage and were wielding guns.

Angie White told a Post reporter in 2014 that she and her daughter were talking with her brother, Junior Walker, when the men came through the open front door. A screen door was closed. The men forced them on the floor, and one of them asked for Tony by name. Two men went into a back bedroom, and White said she heard two gunshots.

Tony Walker, 29, stumbled out of the room and died on the living room floor. Junior Walker, 44, tried to protect the family and reached for his own gun.

He was beaten by one of the intruders with a gun, then was shot and killed.

Assistant District Attorney Paxton Butler told the court Wednesday that the motive in the crime was robbery. He said Tony Walker sold drugs. The prosecutor said Walker had money, drugs and a handgun at the home.

The maximum punishment could be life in prison without possibility of parole for each count.

Later in the brief hearing, Judge Kevin Bridges said he would postpone sentencing until an unnamed date. Abel is likely to testify against co-defendants Darius Abel and James Robinson, both of whom are expected to go on trial Oct. 29.

The three men were originally charged with first-degree murder. Both Darius Abel and Robinson remain in the county jail.

The family of Tony and James Walker were in court but declined to comment since the murder trial is pending, the prosecutor said.

Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.