Paul Shockley
Grand Junction, CO, Colorado

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July 14, 2008
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Judge OKs Walker work on lawmaker's farm

GRAND JUNCTION " A judge Monday ruled Johnnie Walker can drive a tractor on a farm.

District Judge Thomas Deister also set a new trial date " approaching two years after Walker's arrest.

Walker, 50, Grand Junction High School's former activities director who appeared Monday in Deister's courtroom free on bond, was set for a three-day jury trial starting Jan. 13 after pleading not guilty to charges of attempted Internet luring of a child and attempted child enticement.

Walker just last month withdrew not guilty pleas after his attorney, Colleen Scissors, expressed concerns over the availability of a defense expert.

Deister on Monday also granted a defense motion seeking modification of a restraining order to allow Walker to work near children on a farm in Sterling owned by Jerry Sonnenberg, a Republican state lawmaker.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Tammy Eret last Wednesday said she planned to oppose the request.

On Monday, the prosecutor offered no objection.

Scissors wrote in a court motion that Walker and Sonnenberg were "life-long friends" and help was needed for July harvest at the lawmaker's 2,500-acre farm.

Walker will drive a tractor, working alongside Sonnenberg, Sonnenberg's father and the lawmaker's two sons, ages 13 and 17.

Walker had been prohibited from being around any children under age 18.

Campaign finance records examined by the Free Press last week showed Walker had contributed a total of $150 " separate donations in September 2005 and this past May " to Sonnenberg's election committee.

Walker resigned from School District 51 in April 2007 following his arrest on allegations that he engaged in sexually explicit Internet chat with a person he believed to be a 14-year-old girl.

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The Post Independent Updated Jul 14, 2008 07:11PM Published Jul 14, 2008 07:03PM Copyright 2008 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.