DES MOINES, IOWA — A Polk County jury has found 19-year-old Preston Walls guilty of the lesser charges of Second Degree Murder and Voluntary Manslaughter for the shooting deaths of his former classmates Rashad Carr and Gionni Dameron at the Starts Right Here educational center in Des Moines on January 23rd. Walls had been charged with First Degree Murder but the jury apparently agreed with his defense that he acted in self-defense because he feared for his life from the two victims who had gang ties opposite those of Walls.
The jury also agreed to the lesser charge of Assault Causing Serious Injury against Walls for shooting Will Keeps – the education center’s founder – in the hand. Walls had been charged with Willful Injury. The jury found walls not guilty of Attempted Murder and Criminal Gang Participation.
A conviction for Second Degree Murder in Iowa carries a sentence of up to 50 years, but with the possibility of parole. Voluntary Manslaughter carries a sentence of up to ten years in prison. Walls had faced the possibility of life behind bars with parole if he’d been convicted of First Degree Murder. He will be sentenced in November.
The shooting was captured by surveillance cameras inside the school from multiple angles. Walls’ defense team argued that he shot in self-defense because he felt threatened by Dameron and Carr. Walls testified that he feared for his life. Walls and the two victims were on opposite sides of a gang dispute. Dameron and Carr had recently used the music studio at Starts Right Here to record a ‘dis-track’ that mocked a friend of Walls who had recently been killed by police.
Walls ran from the school after the shooting and was given a ride away from the scene by co-defendant Bravon Tukes. Tukes is scheduled to go on trial on October 2nd. He is facing the same charges as Walls – two counts of First Degree Murder, and single counts of Attempted Murder, Willful Injury and Criminal Gang Participation.
You can watch the full verdict here: