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Florida man sentenced on chase-related charges

Second Florida man released due to early jail release has not returned to face trial


WalkerThomasColumbia County Circuit Judge Jean Marie Martwick sentenced Jonathan Walker, 23, of Florida, on Feb. 19 to two years probation and 80 days in jail for charges related to a Jan. 18 high-speed police chase through the county he was involved in with another Florida man.

Walker was sentenced on charges of unauthorized use of a vehicle, recklessly endangering another person and second-degree theft. Twelve other counts related to the incident were dismissed as part of a plea deal.

Walker was also ordered to pay $28,167 in fees for his crimes. More than $26,000 of the amount Walker owes will go to Hertz Corp. for Walker’s vehicle theft charge.

Columbia County District Attorney Steve Atchison said the vehicle belonged to a Hertz Rent-A-Car.

“I believe it was owned by Hertz,” he said. “It was probably originally rented, then they exceeded the rental agreement.”

Marcus Emmanuel Thomas, 27, was riding as a passenger in the vehicle during the chase. Thomas awaits trial for similar charges, Atchison said.

Lt. Tony Weaver of the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office said Walker was released from the county jail March 4 and is now serving his probation. Thomas was released due to a lack of available jail beds Jan. 19 and the Sheriff’s Office hasn’t heard from him since, Weaver said.

Both men are believed by the Sheriff’s Office to be associated with a Florida gang known as the Felony Lane Gang.

Deputies pursued Walker and Thomas in January after receiving a call about a Toyota Highlander traveling north on Highway 30 at a high rate of speed.

Walker, driving the Highlander, refused to stop for pursuing deputies, according to a press release from the Sheriff’s Office.

St. Helens Police Department joined the January pursuit and laid spike strips to halt the vehicle south of St. Helens. Walker allegedly swerved to miss the device, the release stated.

A Columbia City police officer later spotted the Highlander on Pittsburg Road. Walker allegedly drove out of sight and the suspects began throwing allegedly stolen items from the car, said Columbia County Sheriff Jeff Dickerson.

Later, a Rainier police officer saw the Highlander traveling — still at an estimated 100 mph — north on Apiary Road. According to the press release, Walker then crashed into an embankment about half a mile south of Simmons Road on Apiary Road and both suspects attempted to flee from the wreck on foot.

A state trooper was able to detain the passenger, Thomas, who was transported by ambulance to a Portland area hospital for a broken neck after being booked in the Columbia County Jail.