The muscled forearms that once helped make Michael “Glen” Walker a top power-hitting prospect for the Seattle Mariners are laced with scars from when he crashed through a window in a mental hospital.
His eyes have a vacant glaze. Once an energetic athlete, he now sleeps the day away, sedated by anti-psychotic medication.
Walker’s long, hard slide ended Friday when he was sentenced to 26 years in prison for his role in the murder of an Enumclaw, Wash.-area man last July.
Walker had done many unexplainable things since he was diagnosed as manic depressive in 1989, the same time his baseball career ended, by his standards, in failure.
Prosecutors say he offered a 16-year-old Enumclaw boy a 1986 Buick to kill William Stahlman, an affable man, who drank at the tavern where Walker tended bar. Walker told police he was upset Stahlman was selling property Walker thought belonged to someone else.
Stahlman was found dead in the driveway of his rural home July 24. He was shot, his throat slashed.
It was a long journey from the days as a sixth-grader, when Walker told friends he would be a major-leaguer. He went on to become the Pac-10’s Most Valuable Player in 1980 after setting home run and RBI records at Washington State. He was an All-American, married a woman he had gone to high school with in Enumclaw, and was drafted by his hometown Mariners.
He soared through the minor-league system, leading his Double-A league in 1981 with 35 home runs and 111 runs batted in. He was promoted to Triple-A, one call from the majors. Despite another great year, the call never came.
While then-Mariners manager Rene Lachemann gushed about Walker’s sweet right-handed swing, confidence and work ethic, others fretted about his obsessive behavior.
“I told people long ago that I feared for Glen Walker when baseball was over,” said Jeff Scott, his first minor-league manager. “It was all that seemed to matter to him. He was a guy with a lot of talent who just kept doing things that left you shaking your head.”
Walker, he said, alienated teammates, insulted opponents and once told Hall-of-Famer Rod Carew his batting style was wrong.
“I was in a hurry to get to the majors,” Walker acknowledged. “I sometime let my mouth get me in trouble.”
He sulked when other outfielders began to pass him by. He was traded to Kansas City in 1984. He knocked around the minor leagues and in the Mexican leagues before preparing to try out with the Oakland A’s in 1989.
“I was driving between Portland and Seattle when something entered my body,” he said. “I pulled the car over and a voice told me I had to rid the world of starvation and currency and all kinds of things.”
The pastor of his church conducted a demonic deliverance to rid him of the entity issuing the orders, Walker said, but his troubles persisted.
Medication generally kept his manic spirals in check, but when it didn’t, he became unpredictable.
Shortly after being involuntarily committed in 1989 to Western State Hospital, Walker, 6-foot-1 and 210 pounds, crashed through a wire-meshed glass window, claiming he was related to George Bush and had to prevent an assassination attempt on the president.
Walker’s wife divorced him and took their three children. He was in and out of mental hospitals and eventually returned to Enumclaw, 30 miles southeast of Seattle, kept close contact with his mother, did odd jobs and lived off a small monthly disability payment.
He was quiet and friendly while medicated. He was the volunteer hitting coach for Enumclaw High School’s baseball team and played on a softball team with one of Stahlman’s sons.
As he worked longer hours at the tavern, he reduced his medicine because it sedated him.
His attorneys explored a mental defense but could not overcome his confession and other evidence. He pleaded guilty when prosecutors lowered the charge from aggravated murder to first-degree murder.
King County Superior Court Judge James Noe gave Walker the maximum sentence, noting he has continued to blame the teenage suspect for the killing and has shown little remorse.
Although Walker had told police he had hired Arthur Fegley to commit the killing, he now claims the teenager attacked Stahlman with no apparent reason. Walker admitted to only helping steal rifles from Stahlman’s home and covering up the crime.
The day of the killing, Walker and Fegley stopped at an area house and borrowed the homeowner’s .32-caliber handgun, used to shoot Stahlman in the chest.
Fegley, now 17, will go on trial in August on aggravated murder charges and faces a life sentence if convicted. He acknowledges being at the scene but claims he neither committed the attack nor knew it was going to happen, his attorneys said.