Nine years later: Man appears in court for 2010 killings

Ja'Kolbe Chenault

"It was a nightmare then, and it's a nightmare now," Delisha Walker said over the phone after what she described as an intense day.

Walker, the cousin of Charles Walker, and her family saw the man who ordered the death of Charles nine years ago for the first time in court Thursday when he appeared for his arraignment.

She said it was a good day, but also a difficult one as she watched Ja'Kolbe L. Chenault, 36, unknown address, plea not guilty to his involvement in the killing of her cousin and Sonsaray "Sonsi" Warford in June 2010. He has been charged with two counts of complicity to murder, two counts of complicity to kidnapping an adult and complicity to first-degree burglary.

However, Chenault has been serving a 20-year federal sentence for drug trafficking in another state after using a Richmond clothing store to launder money from his drug trafficking, federal court documents state.

"We are blessed we have gotten to this stage ... because every day, we have watched the news and waited for the prosecutors to give us a call … So today was a good day, but it was also a difficult day, because he looked right at us and give us a smirk. … He smiled at us," Delisha Walker said.

"He showed us no remorse. That was the most hurtful thing. This man has no remorse in him at all," she added.

Chenault was indicted on the charges in 2016, according to a previous Register article, after Lebruce B. Ellington, 37, of Richmond, pleaded guilty in Madison Circuit Court to seven felony counts. Ellington -- who also pleaded guilty in the drug trafficking case -- said he acted on behalf of Chenault, a drug dealer who believed Charles Walker had stolen money from him, according to Madison Commonwealth's Attorney David Smith.

Ellington -- who pleaded guilty for the same charges Chenault faces along with a second burglary charge and a persistent felony offender charge -- then hired and paid two men to kill Walker, the previous Register article states.

Ellington told the judge after his plea that he asked his roommate, Daniel R. Keene, 33, to kill Walker on behalf of Chenault. Keene, an Army veteran, along with fellow veteran Matthew Devin Denholm, 35, agreed to kill Walker.

Ellington said he drove Keene to Walker's residence and pointed him out. However, he never spoke to Denholm, who went to the home with Keene, Ellington said.

Keene and Denholm, who both pleaded guilty previously, went to Walker's home June 29, 2010, where they found him with Warford. Both she and Walker were abducted and taken to a secluded field off Tates Creek Road west of South Keeneland Drive, where they were shot and buried, according to Keene's 448-page confession.

After the killers gave him evidence of the victims' deaths, Ellington said, he paid them part of the $15,000 provided to him by Chenault.

Previous testimony and court records show that fingers were cut from the victims to obtain jewelry and provide proof of their deaths.

The bodies were not recovered until March 2012 when Keene told investigators where they could be found.

"I can't say that I'm upset, I just don't have any understanding of why it's taken this long," Walker said. "We've just felt like nobody cared no more. We felt like we were running into walls."

She said it's just a long time to be waiting, and it has prevented her family from healing.

"Everybody has to be sentenced for us to be healed," she said. Charles' kids, she explained, are now adults and are reliving things from their past.

Charles' mother suffers from dementia, and whenever the case is covered by media, and she sees Chenault's face, Walker has to explain to Charles' mother what happened all over again.

"I'm ready for this to be over," she said. But she isn't sure how much longer it will take. Right now, a court date is scheduled for Dec. 12 for a timeline of what's to come in this case, she said.

"My family's been missing since 2010, they found the bodies in 2012 and we've been fighting for justice since 2012," she said. "… As far as moving forward, we're just going to wait it on out and remain humble, continue to fight for justice."

In the end, Walker hopes that Chenault isn't sentenced to death, even though the crimes he faces are capital offenses, but that he is sent to prison for life.

"We don't want to wish death upon nobody," she said. "Our family has experienced that, and we don't want any other family to experience that. But to know that he is put away, to know that he can't do that to anyone else's family, that's what we want."

Reach Sara Kuhl at 624-6626; follow her on Twitter @saraekuhl.

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