by Mark R. Execution Watch Editor
March 22 brings us our second execution of the month, this time that of Adam Ward (no, not either of the actors in the old Batman series; that was Adam West and Burt Ward). Commerce isn’t the place you would expect a capital murder to occur; usually the police only have to deal with out of control frat parties at Texas A&M—Commerce. Unfortunately, underneath the general calmness of daily life in a college town, the simmering of a pot about to blow was taking place.
The City of Commerce and the Ward family (Adam and his father Ralph) had been in a long-standing dispute over numerous code violations on the Ward property. The Wards claimed that the City was engaged in a conspiracy against them; the City countered that the property resembled something you would see on the TV series Hoarders.
But the feud between the parties would turn tragic shortly after 10 AM local time on June 13, 2005, when Code Enforcement Officer Michael “Pee Wee” Walker would go to the Ward property to take pictures of still more code violations. Walker would be met with multiple rounds of gunfire from Adam (before Ralph managed to get the gun away from Adam). In another tragic twist, the first responder at the scene was none other than Walker’s father Dick, who would watch his son die in his arms.
As Walker was a member of the Commerce Police Department, Ward would be charged with capital murder (murder of a peace officer and known to be such by the defendant). In Texas, that’s usually the fastest way to get a death sentence, and in June 2007 that would be the punishment handed down by the jury.
Ralph Ward would later enter into a settlement with Walker’s family, agreeing (without admitting fault) to pay the children $26,000 each plus the costs of Walker’s funeral and attorney’s fees. The City would later provide police protection to any city employee (even meter readers) going to the Ward property. (Walker’s father would later sue the City, on behalf of himself and the children, claiming that the City knew of the dangers but did nothing to protect Walker; I have no information on the outcome of that suit.)
All of Ward’s appeals have been DENIED; however, numerous appeals have been filed claiming he is mentally ill (bi-polar disorder) and therefore should not be executed. I know someone with bi-polar and she absolutely rejects any and all conspiracy theories. There are many sad stories in this case. Ralph Ward’s conspiracy-fueled rants led to him having to pay thousands of dollars to Officer Walker’s family—and he will have to see his son die before him. Dick Walker (who has managed to forgive Adam) had to see his own son die in his arms. Officer Walker’s children have grown up without their father. The City had to spend more taxpayer money to provide police protection for city employees who had to visit the Ward property—police who could have been working to prevent or solve other crimes.
And Adam Ward—only 22 when he fired the fatal shots—will die at 33, way before his time. But he could have chosen to reject the rantings of an unstable parent—he didn’t, though, and sometime after 6PM Huntsville time he will have to pay for his failure to choose wisely.