A mentally troubled St. Petersburg man who fatally stabbed a housemate at a residential facility last year after fighting about a corn dog was sentenced to 25 years in prison Thursday.
Corey Walker, 36, pleaded guilty to a charge of second-degree murder in the Nov. 27 death of Anthony Smith, 56.
Walker and Smith were two of the five people living at 2860 First Ave. S., a transitional facility set up to help people who are homeless or mentally ill get back on their feet. It was managed and overseen by the New Faith Free Methodist Church in South St. Petersburg,
On the morning of Nov. 27, Walker was in the kitchen with James Oliphant, another resident, and Angelis M. Del Valle, who did not live there, when an argument broke out over a corn dog, according to a police report.
After spending the night on a couch, Del Valle went into the kitchen and found the corn dog on the counter, according to the report. She asked Walker, who was already in the kitchen, whether it was his, and he said it wasn’t. Then Oliphant walked into the kitchen and her told it was his.
Oliphant was irritated his corn dog had been taken out of the refrigerator and started arguing with Walker, apparently blaming him, Del Valle told police. She started defending Walker.
That’s when Smith, who was Del Valle’s boyfriend, walked into the kitchen and tried to pull her out of the argument, so they could go and get something to eat.
Oliphant told Smith his girlfriend shouldn’t even be at the house, the report states.
All of a sudden, Walker, who had quarreled with Smith in the past, inexplicably stood up from his chair with a butcher knife and stabbed Smith twice, killing him.
Another resident, Christopher Welcher, walked in and grabbed Walker, telling him to put down the knife. Walker put it in the sink and walked out.
Joseph Washington, who had lived Walker before, told police Walker was a paranoid schizophrenic who once used to receive a monthly shot of Haldol, a powerful antipsychotic medication, but had stopped.
In 2011, while off his medication, Walker pulled a knife on someone. But, instead of pursuing aggravated assault charges against him, St. Petersburg police opted to take him into custody under the Baker Act, which typically allows someone to be held for 72 hours for a psychiatric situation.
Washington told investigators Walker had been having problems with Smith for some time about guests.
The church doesn’t allow anyone to have overnight guests at the facility. Walker, though, did and had been warned told to stop. He believed Smith had reported him, Washington told investigators.
The morning of the stabbing, Walker called Washington because he was upset about Del Valle being at the house.
Walker’s defense attorney, Robin L. Allweiss, scoffed at the notion the stabbing was over a corn dog.
Rather, she said, it shows what can happen when people who have nowhere else to go — including mentally ill people who may not have access to the medication they need — are thrown together.
“This is very, very upsetting, and it totally breaks my heart,” he said.