Attorney accused in murder for hire plot

Irby Ezell Walker

It sounds like the plot for a crime novel - an attorney accused of trying to hire a hit man to knock off a former colleague. But Horry County Police say this isn't fiction. Conway attorney Irby Walker really is under arrest for solicitation of a felony.

Police say they made the arrest after an undercover officer posed as a hit man, and Irby Walker tried to pay him money to murder another man.

The prosecutor says when he first heard about the murder-for-hire scheme, it seemed unbelievable.

"You wonder whether it's just someone making comments off-the-cuff, about hard feelings, just sort of random comments. They don't really mean anything by it," said 15th Circuit Solicitor Greg Hembree.

Hembree says it soon became clear that Irby Walker was serious about trying to hire someone to kill Doug Thornton, a Conway attorney who's had past business dealings with Walker.

At Walker's bond hearing, Thornton said he's taking the threats seriously and fears for his family's safety. "We're not going to be safe, much less feel safe, if he is allowed out on bond or any less bond than he would have to seriously consider violating," Thornton told the judge.

Police say when they got wind of the plot, they had an undercover officer pose as a hit man, and meet with Walker to discuss how much Walker would be willing to pay for the hit. Walker's attorney called the charges farcical, and Walker told the judge he would be exonerated.

"I've been a hardworking attorney for a long time. I believe I'm an ethical person. There is a lot that I'm not going to go into today," Walker said.

The solicitor says Walker's attorney hasn't heard what he's heard, if he thinks the case is a farce. "I respect that. They're friends, and I think that he was expressing an opinion based on friendship, not based on a careful review of the evidence," said Hembree.

Walker posted a $100,000 bond and was freed Friday afternoon, though he must wear a GPS tracking device and avoid all contact with Thornton.

Walker has represented Atlantic Beach Mayor Retha Pierce in past cases. She was arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of DUI.