Federal prosecution stalls for man connected to Shaun Hamblen murder

Federal prosecution stalls for man connected to Shaun Hamblen murder
Deeric Walton was indicted on gun and drug charges following the investigation into a man's disappearance from an East Memphis parking lot. (Source: WMC / Shelby County Sheriff's Office)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Local charges are once again being pursued for a suspect connected to a man’s 2018 abduction and murder from a Memphis gym, after federal prosecutors apparently declined to file firearms charges that could bring a stiffer sentence.

Deeric Walton was one of two suspects arrested following the murder of Shaun Hamblen. Co-defendant Alfonzo Amos is accused of first degree murder and aggravated robbery, while Walton is charged with being a convicted felon in possession of a handgun and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute.

Amos has been held awaiting trial without bond in the Shelby County jail since December 6, 2018, but Walton’s case has proved more turbulent as it passed back and forth between jurisdictions.

Walton also racked up new charges while out on bond for the case, arrested again in June for allegedly being a convicted felon in possession of a handgun and reckless endangerment after a bullet was fired through an apartment in the Hickory Hill area.

His Shelby County charges connected to the 2018 Hamblen case had been marked “disposed” after a January 7, 2019 court appearance. The Shelby County District Attorney’s Office said the case would be handed off for federal prosecution.

Federal charges for convicted felons possessing firearms can result in prison sentences of up to 10 years without parole, an outcome U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant has highlighted in recent news releases.

But federal charges were never announced and Walton’s name does not appear in a search of federal filings for the Western District of Tennessee.

A Shelby County grand jury ultimately indicted Walton for the same gun and drug charges that had been dropped months earlier. He was booked into the Shelby County jail on January 15, 2020, according to court records.

When asked about the move to indict Walton at the local level, Shelby County District Attorney spokesperson Larry Buser indicated federal prosecutors were no longer pursuing the case.

U.S. Attorney Dunavant declined to provide any information on the case or even confirm if federal charges were permanently off the table.

“The Department of Justice and this office generally will not confirm the existence of or otherwise comment about ongoing investigations, and does not comment on the nature or progress of any case before charges are publicly filed,” he said in a statement earlier this month.

It remains unclear what factors the U.S. Attorney’s office considers when deciding which cases to pursue federally. Other Memphis gun and drug cases -- some occurring more recently than Walton’s arrest -- have already resulted in convictions, according to news releases.

Despite the pending Shelby County case, Memphis police said they found Walton with two more handguns after investigating gunfire this summer.

According to a police affidavit, two women found a bullet hole in the floor of their second-floor apartment at the Trails at Mt. Moriah on June 5.

When a property manager let officers into the downstairs unit, police reported they found bags of ammunition and an ID belonging to Walton.

Officers ultimately found Walton and another man in a Nissan and recovered two handguns Walton was carrying, according to the affidavit.

An arrest warrant for Walton was not issued until a week later and defense attorney Brandon Hall said it was because of major admissibility problems with the case.

Hall said when he questioned an officer in court about why Walton was not immediately taken to jail as a felon possessing a weapon, the officer admitted he did not have consent to search the vehicle where the guns were found.

Walton posted a $40,000 bond in the case June 19 but his $80,000 bond in the 2018 case was soon revoked and he was booked back into jail July 29.

A court date for the 2018 case was reset for September 14, while the new charges are set to be disposed September 25, according to court records.

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