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Pop Smoke: Trial Date Set for Murder Defendant

The only jury trial over the senseless slaying of Brooklyn rapper Pop Smoke is now set to begin June 25 in Los Angeles. A judge set the date for Corey Walker, the sole defendant charged as an adult in the 2020 murder, at a court hearing on Friday, Rolling Stone has confirmed.

Three other defendants, including the 15-year-old shooter, were charged as juveniles. The eldest of the juveniles admitted to voluntary manslaughter and home invasion at a hearing last April. The youngest defendant admitted in May that he pulled the trigger in the harrowing home invasion robbery that resulted in the celebrated “Dior” rapper’s death. The third juvenile, who was 16 at the time, also settled his case and was sent to a post-conviction juvenile housing facility, a source confirmed to Rolling Stone. The three men, now adults, are expected to be held until they turn 25 years old.

Walker, 23, has pleaded not guilty to one count of murder and three counts related to the alleged home-invasion robbery at Pop Smoke’s rented Hollywood Hills home on February 19, 2020. Attempts to reach Walker’s new defense lawyer were not immediately successful Monday.

Walker’s prior defense lawyer, Christopher Darden, argued in court filings obtained by Rolling Stone that Walker “did not plan this crime” and, in the “worst case scenario,” was only the driver who “remained outside seated in the driver’s seat” of a vehicle that belonged to him and his grandmother. Prosecutors, meanwhile, claim Walker “facilitated the crimes by not only surveilling the crime scene before the crimes were committed but serving as the researcher, getaway driver, weapons provider and planner of this home invasion robbery.”

According to police and prosecutors, the juvenile defendants, some in ski masks, made their way up to an outdoor balcony and burst into the upstairs bedroom of the Airbnb rental home where Pop Smoke, born Bashar Jackson, was taking a shower shortly after 4 a.m. Prosecutors allege Walker was in communication with the juveniles via cell phone during the incident that ended with Jackson being pistol-whipped and shot three times in the back with a Beretta 9mm semiautomatic pistol.

A police detective testified at a preliminary hearing that a Google account linked to Walker researched the rental home before the slaying and then searched “Rolex oyster perpetual datejust” at 5:15 a.m., less than an hour after the first 911 call was made. Prosecutors allege the robbers stole Jackson’s diamond-studded Rolex and eventually sold it for $2,000.

In his failed motion to get Walker’s murder charge dismissed, Darden argued that his former client was “not a major participant” in the deadly shooting. “It is clear from the evidence that [Walker] did not enter the house, was not armed, and did not personally kill the victim. Moreover, the evidence is clear that the defendant did not share the actual killer’s intent to kill,” Darden wrote in his October 2021 filing.

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“The defendant was aware that a weapon was being used,” but he “was he was careful to insist” that “if it became necessary for the suspects to defend themselves, they should use a flower vase rather than shoot someone,” Darden wrote. “It was only after the robbers exited the house and reentered the vehicle that [Walker] learned of the shooting. In response, [Walker] assaulted the shooter.”

Prosecutors say Walker and his cohorts planned the home invasion to steal the stack of cash, thick gold chain and diamond-studded watch that Jackson had flashed on social media a day earlier. The robbers allegedly found the home because Jackson posted a photo of a gift bag with the address listed on a label.  

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