Taylor Searcy
Stephen Walker

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At a first appearance proceeding at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, May 23, Wakulla County Judge Brian Miller informed Taylor Searcy that he was being charged with DUI Manslaughter in the death of Stephen Walker.

Walker, a Jefferson County commissioner, was killed in an automobile accident on Oct. 29, 2023, when the SUV he was driving on U.S. 98 was hit by a pickup truck driven by Searcy, who had failed to stop at the intersection of Spring Creek Highway and U.S. 98.
Walker was transported via life-flight to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Searcy made this first appearance via Zoom, during which Judge Miller stated that he had reviewed the arrest warrant and found it sufficient for his arrest.
“Mr. Searcy, you are being charged with one count each of DUI Manslaughter and Vehicular Homicide,” said Judge Miller during the proceeding.
According to statements made during the proceeding by Searcy’s attorney, Fred Conrad, the arrest warrant had been issued on Wednesday, May 22, and Searcy immediately turned himself in to the authorities.
The state attorney’s office noted that Searcy had no prior criminal history and recommended a $10,000 bond per count. Conrad recommended $5,000 per count, arguing that Searcy had demonstrated he was not a flight risk by turning himself in, was gainfully employed and not a danger to the community.
Sandra Nichols, sister of Stephen Walker, attended the first appearance proceeding via zoom and asked to speak.
“I don’t know if you can hear from family at this hearing or not,” said Nichols, “but we’ve waited months for this arrest to happen. I have no idea why it has taken so long, and we have had to endure seeing facebook posts of Mr. Searcy galavanting around town celebrating with his family, while I don’t have a brother. We have on video that he killed my brother. Him getting released is ridiculous.”
Judge Miller said that he understood her concerns.
“It’s not a situation where I can hold Mr. Searcy without bond,” Judge Miller explained, adding that based on the charges, Searcy was entitled to bond.
As restrictive options other than incarceration were being discussed during the proceeding, Nichols commented further: “I’m a psychiatric nurse practitioner. I would like him to also be tested for urine/drug screen panel, routinely, because he was also positive for marijuana… He knowingly got behind the wheel after drinking and being high on marijuana, and drove through a stop sign and killed my brother. I think $5,000 a count, for someone that owns their own home, is disgusting.”
At the end of Searcy’s first appearance, Judge Miller set bond at $10,000 per count, a total of $20,000 bond. He also imposed a number of pre-trial restrictions, including that Searcy must consume no alcohol or illegal drugs; must attend all future court appearances; and have no contact whatsoever with the family of the decedent, not in person, by phone, via text or social media, and not through another person on his behalf.

This story is republished from the Monticello News by special arrangement.