SNOW HILL — An Ocean City man, convicted of manslaughter and assault in July for the death of a West Ocean City bar owner just over a year ago, was sentenced on Friday to three years in jail, with all but one year suspended and was given credit for the roughly 90 days he has spent in jail since the trial.< ?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office">
Cyle Morgan Walker, who just turned 27 on the one-year anniversary of the tragic incident last week, was found guilty in July of manslaughter, second-degree assault and disorderly conduct in the death of 707 Sports Bar and Grill owner Carey Flynn in the early morning hours on Oct. 6, 2011. Walker and Flynn got into a verbal argument when the bar owner saw the defendant urinating on the side of his business around closing time and the argument escalated into a physical altercation.
The physical altercation ultimately turned deadly when Walker grabbed Flynn and threw a punch at the bar owner with an employee in between attempting to break up the fight. Whether the punch connected or not was the subject of much debate during the trial in July, but what is known is that Flynn, Walker and the employee all fell to the ground with Flynn on top of Walker and the employee off to the side.
Walker and the bartender were able to get to their feet after the combatants released their grips on each other, but Flynn remained on the ground, struggling to breathe from an internal injury only a later autopsy would reveal. While Flynn was on the ground struggling to breathe, Walker stood over the bar owner and continued to threaten and mock Flynn, according to testimony at trial.
By then, Flynn’s wife and a family friend were outside and helped Flynn to his feet briefly before getting him onto a nearby bench. Flynn continued to struggle to breathe and then collapsed unconscious. He was taken by ambulance to AGH where he was pronounced dead a few hours later.
During the trial in July, a forensic pathologist explained to the court when he began his internal investigation, he discovered the source of Flynn’s ultimate demise. The pathologist discovered a tear in an existing scar, or adhesion, in Flynn’s abdomen near his intestines that had caused the bleeding that caused his heart to fail. While defense attorney David Moore questioned whether the pre-existing medical condition contributed to his death, the pathologist was resolute in his opinion the physical altercation with Walker caused the tear in Flynn’s abdomen
Judge Richard Bloxom found Walker guilty of manslaughter, second-degree assault and disorderly conduct at the close of the trial in July and a pre-sentence investigation was ordered. A sentencing hearing was scheduled for Friday, but before proceeding with sentencing, Bloxom entertained a motion for a new trial based on some photographs of the defendant that had come to light after the trial in July. However, Bloxom denied the motion and moved forward with the sentencing phase.
Flynn’s wife Beverly told the court through a prepared statement read by State’s Attorney Beau Oglesby her husband was taken from her and her family because of Walker’s actions that fateful night.
“He was one of the good guys, but he was killed in a senseless way by Cyle Walker’s drunken, thoughtless actions,” she said through the statement. “Because of his actions, our lives will never be the same.”
For his part, Oglesby said the pre-sentence investigation report revealed a pattern of alcohol and drug abuse and suggested the events of that October night last year reflected Walker’s character.
“The real heart of the problem that evening can be summed up in one gesture,” he said. “When he got kicked out of Harborside and scribbled a middle finger on the tip line of his credit card receipt, the smart thing to do would be to go home. That attitude carried over to 707. All everybody wanted him to do was just go home, but he didn’t. Instead of leaving in a waiting cab, he throws a punch and gets physical with a 63-year old man. Instead of just getting in the waiting cab, he comes over and taunts a dying man. That’s not an anomaly. That is his character.”
According to testimony and his own admission, Walker did have a drinking problem and had stopped drinking months before the incident. Only during a birthday celebration with his father and girlfriend did he start drinking again and it resulted in deadly consequences.
“This was absolutely unnecessary and it was predictable and preventable,” he said. “He should have known when he drinks, bad things happen. He acknowledged he had a drinking problem and voluntarily stopped drinking just months before the incident.”
However, Moore painted a picture of Walker as a decent, productive member of society who was on his way to rehabilitation and a promising future marred by a single, isolated incident that changed everything.
“This ‘animal’ the state describes returned to the scene a half an hour later to check on Mr. Flynn,” he said. “I believe the remorse began right there.”
Moore said the interaction between Flynn and Walker began as a verbal argument that turned physical.
“What we have here is an atypical manslaughter case,” he said. “We have what amounted to a scuffle that resulted in serious consequences.”
With that said, Moore called on a litany of character references for Walker including his parents, siblings, other family members and friends who tearfully extolled the defendant’s virtues and painted a picture of a caring, gentle individual. A total of 13 witnesses spoke on Walker’s behalf in the courtroom and even a videotaped message from his employer was shown to the judge from a laptop.
Finally, when it was his turn to address the judge, Walker expressed deep remorse to Flynn’s wife and family and appeared genuinely contrite.
“I in no way wanted to hurt Mr. Flynn,” he said. “I’m so sorry and I know that’s not enough, but the person you saw that night is not me. I’m a kind-hearted individual and everything that happened that night was a tragic accident. It makes me sick every day. I’m haunted by the pain I’ve caused with my inexcusable actions and I take full responsibility. I have been forever changed.”
Bloxom carefully listened to the evidence and testimony before addressing Walker.
“You did what you did and you’re guilty of a crime,” he said. “Did you want to kill him? Of course not, but he’s gone from the face of this earth because of what you did. All of that ended because of what you did, whether you meant to do it or not.”
Bloxom said the court has several factors to consider at sentencing including the potential rehabilitation of the defendant and a possible deterrent for similar actions in the future. In the end, however, the sentence must reflect the public’s best interest in light of the facts in the case.
“One of the factors in sentencing is to express society’s repugnance and condemnation with a criminal act,” he said. “This court must reflect that.”
Bloxom sentenced Walker to three years for the manslaughter count, of which all was suspended but one year. The second-degree assault charge was merged for the purpose of sentencing, and Walker was sentenced to an additional two months for the disorderly conduct charge, which will be served concurrent with the manslaughter sentence. Walker was then given credit for the roughly 90 days he has spent in jail since the July trial, netting him roughly nine months in new jail time.