DES MOINES, Iowa —The first degree murder trial of Bravon Tukes continued on Monday with a new wrinkle. Preston Walls, who was found guilty last month of second degree murder in connection to the Starts Right Here shooting, will testify in Tukes’ trial. Tukes is charged with two counts of first-degree murder, attempted murder, willful injury, and criminal gang participation.
Police say Tukes drove the getaway car following a deadly shooting at the Starts Right Here education center back in January. Gionni Dameron, 18, and Rashad Carr, 16, were killed in the shooting, and Starts Right Here founder Will Keeps was injured.
At a hearing outside the jury’s presence, the prosecution raised concerns over having Walls testify in street clothes, without handcuffs. They wanted to have him appear in chains and a prison suit. They called the head of security for the Polk County Courthouse complex to testify at a brief hearing.
“In moving somebody over in civilian clothes and presenting them in the court room with no restraints, raises the security threat level and I have concerns with doing that for any inmate that has a conviction, especially the murder convictions that we’re dealing with,” said Ken Pilch, of the Polk County Sheriff’s detail at the Courthouse Complex. “The person in question also has made threats via the jail information systems about coming over the bar and taking care of business with people in the courtroom so I think that also raises additional security concerns.”
Jamie Deremiah, one of the defense attorneys for Bravon Tukes asked if there was any problem with Walls during the time when he was on trial. He was without restraints at the lawyers table, and on the witness stand.
Pilch answered that there was no problem during that trial. The decision is up to the presiding judge, Lawrence McLelland.
“I’m going to stand by my order of October 5 and order that Mr. Walls be allowed to testify in civilian clothes and without physical restraints,” said McLelland. “But I’m aware of the policy that when there are inmates brought in as witnesses in trials, there are two deputies at our position behind the witness, during that testimony, and I am going to impose that requirement.”
Also on Monday there was evidence presented of Tukes driving his car to meet Preston Walls after the shooting at the Starts Right Here school.
“We were able to extract phone data from January 23 from would’ve been Mr. Tukes’ cell phone, which is connected via Bluetooth,“ said Jeffrey George, of the Des Moines Police Detective Unit. “There were multiple phone calls to and from Preston walls.”
George also played video of Walls running to meet Tukes driving the getaway car in the parking lot of Mullets restaurant, just south of the school.