By John Balch
A Pike County jury found the brother of one the state’s most prolific child rapists not guilty of misdemeanor failure to notify by a mandated reporter during a lengthy trial held Wednesday, Oct. 25.
Bryce Gregory Walker, 60, of Glenwood, was accused of knowingly not reporting to authorities that his brother and convicted serial child rapist, Barry Walker, had molested their great nieces. Bryce Walker was considered by the prosecution to be a mandated reporter of child maltreatment due to his position as information technology director for the Hot Springs District.
Bryce Walker faced imprisonment in the county jail for up to one year and a fine up to $2,500. The misdemeanor charge against him was filed in Pike County Circuit Court on Dec. 28, 2022.
The jury of five males and seven females was seated for the case by Judge Bryan Chesshir around 11:20 a.m.
Walker was represented by Shelly Koehler of Snively, Fairrell & Koehler law firm of Fayetteville. The prosecution was handled by Dan Turner of Arkadelphia, prosecuting attorney for the 9th East Judicial District, who was assigned the case due to the conflict of interest by Prosecutor Jana Bradford, who is the niece of Bryce and Barry Walker and is currently named as a defendant in a related Clark County civil case.
Barry Walker pled guilty to multiple crimes against children in October 2022 in both Pike and Clark counties that stemmed from multiple sexual assaults involving 31 known minor children spanning dates from 1997 to the present. He received multiple life sentences in both counties and is a defendant in a Clark County civil case filed by his victims.
Prosecutor Dan Turner reminded the jury the case against Bryce Walker was not about Barry Walker, but about the fact that Bryce Walker did not report to authorities after learning his great nieces had been two of his brother’s victims.
Attorney Koehler’s main argument was that Bryce Walker did not know that he was a mandated reporter in his position with the Hot Springs School District.
Bryce Walker was heard by the jury in an interview with investigators that it was a “complete shock” when he heard from his niece Brandy Cox and her dad, Ricky Cox, that his brother had molested his great nieces. He also admitted that out an “abundance of caution” he would not let his daughter stay again with his brother.
Walker further stated that his family knew not to automatically believe what Brandy Cox, a convicted felon, said and that after the maltreatment was discovered she continued to allow to let her kids stay with Barry Walker. Cox is currently charged in connection to the Barry Walker cases in Pike County with felony permitting abuse of a minor.
Bryce Walker, who did not testify during the trial, also stated in the interview that he confronted his brother and that he denied the accusations and talked about the “level of trust” he had with his brother, who he called his “best friend.” Walker also denied that Jana Bradford knew of the incident and that it was not reported due to concerns about an election at the time where Bradford was running for prosecuting attorney in Pike County, which she won.
Walker admitted to investigators he did not want to get involved in what he called a “huge mess” but that he discussed it with his siblings and that he did not report the allegations to anyone.
During Brandy Cox’ testimony, she said Bryce Walker told her to wait before reporting the maltreatment. Cox did not immediately alert the authorities but eventually did. She called the day she learned of the maltreatment “the worse day of her life.”
Attorney Koehler worked to discredit Cox and questioned why Cox continued to let her children stay with Barry Walker after the allegations and mentioned that Cox was put on Barry Walker’s business payroll following the accusations and accepted $10,000.
Throughout the trial, Koehler told jurors that Bryce Walker did not know he was mandated reporter at the school. “If you don’t know, you don’t know,” Koehler said.
Turner noted in his closing statements that despite the misdemeanor charge against Bryce Walker the case was still a “big deal.” He explained that during the Barry Walker trials he was consistently asked how Walker was able to commit his crimes against so many victims and over such a long period of time.
“This is how,” Turner told the jurors about Walker’s decision to not report the crimes.
The jury took the case around 4:40 p.m. and returned at 5:55 with no verdict and questions for the judge.
The jury returned to deliberations at 6:00 and came back out at 8:00 again with no verdict and more questions.
The jury continued deliberations and was served a diner prepared in the Pike County jail before they returned to open court with the not guilty verdict at 9:06.