Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

After six years, a life sentence in Tampa home invasion death

TAMPA — The defendant didn't beg the judge for mercy. The victim's family didn't lose sleep over what-ifs. Everybody knew what was going to happen at the Friday sentencing, and that didn't make it any less significant.

Ronny Walker, 32, was sentenced to life in prison for the 2003 home invasion robbery death of Elaine Caldwell, a grandmother who was in her bedroom perming her hair when she saw a stranger with a gun and screamed.

Walker had been out of prison for 10 days when he entered her home with a gun, emptied her boyfriend's pockets and corralled him and her 9-year-old granddaughter in the bedroom to find more. That's when Caldwell saw him.

He told her to stop screaming, but she continued. So in front of her family, he shot her in the head.

Police had eyewitnesses but no DNA, fiber or fingerprint evidence putting Walker in Caldwell's home. They continued to investigate as Walker served a prison sentence on unrelated drug convictions. Then in 2009, almost six years after Caldwell died, prosecutors charged him with first-degree murder.

Her family sat through the first trial and watched a jury return, undecided.

They wondered what would happen when prosecutors offered Walker five years in prison in exchange for a guilty plea. They learned that at least twice he turned them down.

They gathered for a second trial, this time on a downgraded charge of second-degree murder, and again listened as Caldwell's boyfriend, Raymond Lee, recounted the murder.

Then they watched a jury leave to deliberate, and waited.

On May 5, a jury convicted Walker of manslaughter, burglary and robbery with a firearm. As a prison release reoffender, the sentence prescribed by Florida law was life.

Twenty of her family members watched it happen.

"Mr. Walker," said Circuit Judge Emmett Lamar Battle, "today you'll be held to account for the vicious crime. Justice is a long time coming for Elaine Caldwell, her family and for you."

Walker's public defender announced his plan to appeal.

But Caldwell's family left Walker behind Friday.

"Finally," daughter Tina Boggs said, "it's coming to an end."

Alexandra Zayas can be reached at or (813) 226-3354.

After six years, a life sentence in Tampa home invasion death 05/28/10 [Last modified: Friday, May 28, 2010 10:39pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays DFA Danny Farquhar to make room for Brad Boxberger


    The Rays continued shuffling their bullpen, dumping RHP Danny Farquhar after Wednesday's game to make room for RHP Brad Boxberger to be activated off the DL.

    Farquhar, who worked an inning in Wednesday's 6-2 loss, had a 2-2, 4.11 record for 37 appearances, working primarily in lower leverage situations. In …

  2. USF to face Indiana in men's basketball next season


    The USF men's basketball team will get an early test from a Big Ten powerhouse next season.

  3. Rays employee helps save suicidal woman near Pirates stadium


    A Rays front-office employee joined umpire John Tumpane in saving a woman threatening to jump from a bridge near PNC Park on Wednesday afternoon in Pittsburgh.

    Multimedia production manager Mike Weinman, 32, was walking across the Roberto Clemente Bridge with Rays broadcasting director Larry McCabe when he …

  4. Blake Snell struggles in return as Rays fall to Pirates

    The Heater


    Blake Snell talked a good game ahead of his return to the Rays rotation Wednesday night, but he didn't pitch one.

    The Pirates’ David Freese scores on a Blake Snell wild pitch during the first inning against the Rays.
  5. College World Series title puts Florida Gators in elite company


    The Florida Gators put themselves in rare company with Tuesday night's College World Series national championship victory.

    Florida ace and Tampa native Alex Faedo (21) lets loose with his teammates after they win the Gators’ first baseball national title.