Teens charged in fatal school shooting get separate trials

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Two Iowa teenagers charged in a shooting at a Des Moines school will be tried separately so one of the teens can testify in defense of the other.

A judge ruled this week that the trials of Preston Walls, 18, and Bravon Tukes, 19, should be separated so Walls could be called to testify by Tukes’ defense lawyers.

Both teens are charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder and criminal gang participation in the shooting deaths of students Gionni Dameron, 18, and Rashad Carr, 16, on Jan. 23 at an alternative school for at-risk students called Starts Right Here.

Walls is accused of shooting both students and injuring Will Keeps, who founded the school. Walls then left the school in a car driven by Tukes.

Tukes’ attorneys sought to separate the trials at an earlier hearing. They noted Walls has said Tukes wasn’t involved in the shooting. Tukes’ attorneys want Walls to testify in Tukes’ defense and asked for separate trials so that such testimony is possible.

The judge agreed to separate the trials but denied a request to delay Walls’ trial, which is scheduled to start May 1. A trial date for Tukes hasn’t been scheduled.

The Starts Right Here program reopened in February with additional security. Keeps, an activist and rapper whose given name is Will Holmes, is back to work at the school even as he recovers from gunshot wounds to his hip and right hand.

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