Judge Reserves Ruling on Release of Transcripts in the Controversial Death of Inmate Matthew Walker: Family Seeks Justice

PUNTA GORDA, Fla. – A judge in Punta Gorda, Florida has reserved ruling on whether grand jury instructions and other records related to the death of an inmate in state custody can be made public. The motion was filed by attorney Colleen MacAlister on behalf of Christopher Crowley, who is seeking the release of the grand jury records regarding the 2014 death of Matthew Walker. Walker, 46, died while incarcerated at the Charlotte County Correctional Institute.

Crowley, who ran for state attorney in the Republican primary in 2018, has also filed a lawsuit against the Charlotte Clerk of Court in an effort to obtain the transcripts. The Walker family, who has long sought justice for Matthew’s death, was present in the courtroom for the hearing.

Walker died on April 11, 2014, after being beaten by correctional officers for mouthing off to an officer during a room check. The grand jury convened in 2015, but failed to indict any prison staffers for Walker’s death. In a report released by the State Attorney’s Office, the grand jurors called the incident “tragic, senseless, and avoidable.”

Colleen MacAlister, representing Crowley, stated that the records could be redacted if necessary and that Crowley is willing to bear the associated costs. MacAlister argued that the proceedings should not be kept secret, emphasizing the need for transparency and justice.

Douglas Wyler, representing State Attorney Amira Fox, opposed the disclosure of the grand jury records, citing the importance of maintaining the tradition of secrecy. He questioned the credibility of Louise Salcedo, a grand juror who had made comments about the case to the media.

The judge, Lisa Porter, questioned both sides during the hearing, seeking to understand the potential impact and relevance of releasing the records. Porter asked MacAlister to identify the critical evidence that would be useful in the Florida Bar complaint against Crowley. She also inquired about the credibility of Salcedo’s comments and their alignment with the jury instructions.

For the Walker family, the potential release of the grand jury records offers an opportunity for closure and answers. Mae Atkins, Matthew’s sister, expressed frustration that no one was indicted despite the medical examiner classifying the death as a homicide. Atkins hopes that the disclosure of the records will shed light on the events surrounding her brother’s death.

The judge has yet to make a ruling on the release of the grand jury records.