Originally created 02/24/03

Trial to start for suspect in killings



Jury selection begins today in the capital murder trial of one of three men accused of robbing and killing an Evans couple.

Fred and Yong-Suk Walker were shot to death in their home Feb. 2, 1998. In June 2000, arrest warrants were issued for three men, including Jimmy Lee Rhodes.

Mr. Rhodes has pleaded innocent to two counts each of murder, burglary and armed robbery. His trial will be held in Columbia County Superior Court.

Mr. Rhodes' nephew, Dag Luquinciette Rhodes, is charged with the same offenses and is awaiting trial. David J. Easterling pleaded guilty in March 2001 and agreed to testify against the Rhodeses.

The Walkers were found in the bedroom of their Country Place subdivision home the day after they died. From the beginning, investigators suspected robbery as the motive for the double homicide. The Walkers owned a Kissingbower Road liquor store and check-cashing business and often had large sums of cash.

A link to Mr. Easterling gave Columbia County investigators sus pects in the case. Mr. Easterling's former girlfriend told investigators that he had talked of taking part in the slayings.

Mr. Easterling also has pleaded guilty to kidnapping charges in the June 1998 abduction of Sam's Club Manager David Holt, who was locked in the trunk of his car and burned to death across the Savannah River in Aiken County.

He testified against his former co-defendants in the Holt case, Carlston W. Coleman and Ronald Coleman Jr., in November 2001. Mr. Easterling maintains that he was only the driver in the two crimes.

The two Colemans, who are not related, were convicted in Richmond County Superior Court of the crimes that led to Mr. Holt's death. Each was sentenced to serve two consecutive life sentences plus 65 years in prison.

Mr. Easterling is serving two consecutive life sentences with the possibility of parole.

Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226 or shodson@augustachronicle.com.