A 2nd man was involved in Tampa 14-year-old’s murder, prosecutor says

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TAMPA — A second man is suspected of being involved in the slaying of 14-year-old Nilexia Alexander, a prosecutor said in court Friday, but only one man has been charged in her death.

The revelation came in a two-hour hearing in which a Tampa police detective summarized the evidence against Ronny Tremel Walker, who was arrested a week ago on a first-degree murder charge in Nilexia’s death.

Hillsborough Circuit Judge Catherine Catlin found there was a substantial probability that Walker participated in the crime and that he poses a threat to the community. She ordered him to remain jailed without bail while he awaits trial.

One factor in the judge’s decision: Walker’s extensive criminal history, which includes prison time for a previous homicide.

“I clearly don’t think that Mr. Walker believes that laws apply to him,” the judge said.

Walker, 44, was not present for the hearing.

Assistant State Attorney Chinwe Fossett argued that Walker and another man were together in Walker’s car when they picked up Nilexia just before 3 a.m. on May 6 in Belmont Heights.

The Tampa Bay Times is not naming the other man, since he has not been arrested or charged in connection with Nilexia’s death. Efforts to reach him by phone Friday were not successful.

Cell phone records indicated the man’s phone twice communicated with Nilexia’s phone in the days before she was killed, according to court testimony.

“There is not one shred of evidence that Mr. Walker committed premeditated murder,” Assistant Public Defender Carolyn Schlemmer said in court. “They have also not presented one shred of evidence as to who pulled the trigger.”

A troubled teen, Nilexia had run away from her mother’s Temple Terrace home about 10 days before her death.

Street-corner videos, which were played in court, showed her strolling through a housing complex dressed in dark clothing as a dark-colored sedan pulled up. The video showed her getting inside.

Fifteen minutes later, a security video from a house on Highland Avenue in Tampa Heights caught images of the car heading west on Floribraska Avenue, turning around in a dead end, then stopping briefly.

Recordings captured the noise of several gunshots. The car was driven away with its headlights off.

A neighbor found Nilexia lying dead in a vacant lot. She’d been shot three times in her head, and once in her back. One wound to her cheek was inflicted at close range, Tampa police Detective Jacob Wieland testified.

“They literally picked her up for the sole purpose of killing her,” Fossett said. “Miss Alexander is picked up at 2:52 a.m., completely healthy, alive, and by 3:07 a.m., she is dead.”

Twenty-two minutes after the crime, a dark Ford Fusion pulled into a Thornton’s gas station at Hillsborough and Armenia avenues. Video from the gas station showed the driver got out, pumped gas and went inside the station. A passenger briefly got out of the vehicle, then got back inside.

Investigators identified Walker as the driver, and the other man as the passenger.

Walker later told police he’d loaned his car that early morning to a friend whom he knew as “Q.” The detective said that is the other man’s nickname, but the description Walker gave — about 6-feet-1, with a slim build and dreadlocks — did not sound like him.

Walker’s girlfriend’s cell phone, which the detective said Walker admitted he was carrying that night, took a similar path as Nilexia’s phone, the detective said.

Police also later questioned the other man and searched his home, the detective said.

Both men denied knowing Nilexia, according to court records and testimony.

Police obtained a warrant to search Walker’s car. In several spots on the passenger doors and doorjambs, they found blood, the detective said.

An analysis of DNA from one blood spot on a rear door showed a DNA mixture from three people: Walker, Nilexia and an unidentified third person.

Nilexia’s mother, Ashley Alexander, watched the proceedings Friday from the courtroom gallery. She became emotional as the detective described how her daughter died.

“What did my 14-year-old daughter do so bad that you put her down?” she said afterward. “That’s my biggest question.”