Conway attorney Irby Walker pleaded guilty today to trying to hire someone to kill another attorney and was sentenced by a Charleston area judge to serve three years in prison.
Walker, 59, was charged with solicitation of a felony last year after Doug Thornton told police Sept. 11 that Walker had made threats against his life and believed he was trying to follow through on those threats, police said. Walker pleaded guilty to solicitation to commit a felony of murder.
"There's nobody sorry for what happened than I am," Walker said. " He didn't deserve what I did.
Walker was sentenced to 10 years in prison, suspended after he serves three years in prison and five years probation. Walker was ordered to undergo mental health counseling and have no contact with the victim."I began to blame Doug I should have never blamed him for," Walker said.
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A forensic psychiatrist testified that Walker has some mental health issues and is taking medication.
During an investigation, Horry County police learned that Walker tried to hire someone to kill Thornton, police said. The men have known each other since 1982, and Thornton said he shared an office with Walker until 2006, before relocating his practice.
Between Sept. 11 and Sept. 17, police recorded conversations Walker had with another person, who has not been named, about how much he would be willing to pay to have Thornton killed, according to an arrest warrant.
The person set up a meeting with Walker at his law office at 212 Elm St., and Walker paid the person part of the money for the act before police arrested Walker. The remainder of ``the balance to be paid after Mr. Thornton had been killed,''; according to the warrant.
The arrest is among several incidents that put Walker's name in the news in the previous year.
Before his arrest, Walker had represent former Atlantic Beach Mayor Retha Pierce. In May 2009, a woman, who worked for Walker, and her husband were charged with stealing $250,000 from him.
Walker was admitted to the bar on Nov. 1, 1976 and had no previous disciplinary actions.
According to a web site promoting Walker's firm, he was born in Manning, attended Baptist College at Charleston where he received a bachelor's of arts in 1972. He went on to the University of South Carolina where he obtained a law degree in 1976 and then George Washington University for an intellectual property law degree focused on taxation.
Walker, is listed as the principal attorney in his firm, was admitted to practice in the U.S. District Court, District of South Carolina and the U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit in 1977. He established his practice in 1980.
Walker's practice areas include criminal law, divorce, personal injury, Social Security and automobile accidents.