Dorm arson case to be retried


Reporter - Lauren Adams
Photojournalist - David Dycus

CALLOWAY COUNTY, Ky. — Michael Minger, 19, had a learning disability, one that limited his sense of space and direction.

When a fire broke out near his room on the 4th floor of Hester Hall on the Murray State campus in 1998, he was trapped. The sophomore died trying to escape.

Murray State issued a statement saying, "This tragic fire forever changed our university 13 years ago. We have and will continue to cooperate with any related investigation."

Thirteen years after his death, mother Gail Minger said she still comes unglued, most recently on Wednesday.

"When I got the news, I pretty much came undone. I didn't really know I had that emotion so buried."

That phone conversation was when she learned Jerry Walker, now 35, had been re-indicted for the crime that killed her son.

Walker had been arrested June 11, 1999, several months after that September 1998 fire. His trial began in June 2001 and ended in a hung jury on June 29.

In early 2010, Kentucky State Police began a review of the case. It resulted in a new presentation of findings to a grand jury and Walker's re-indictment.

Walker faces manslaughter, arson, assault and wanton endangerment charges.

"It was pretty amazing to hear that and I'm very thankful other people cared enough about Michael and the life he was not able to live and decided to do something about it," Minger said.

Commonwealth's Attorney Mark Blankenship will not discuss the evidence but said it's there.

"We submitted evidence to the new grand jury for almost two days."

But Blankenship did say he felt good about the evidence.

"We're gonna move forward and we're confident of a very different result this time."

Gail Minger does not call it closure. She said she will never have that but she hopes whatever it is, it comes soon.

"It is a resolution to something that has been left undone."

Walker bonded out of jail Thursday morning, leaving jail with his lawyers.

Walker, who finished his education at Murray State, serves as assistant principal at Paducah Middle School. The superintendent said he will return to work Monday.

Walker will be back in court Nov. 21 for a status hearing. That is when new motions will be introduced. But for now, his legal team, lead by Dennis Null, declined to comment.