DES MOINES, Iowa (WHO) — The first-degree murder trial of Bravon Tukes focused on evidence regarding Tukes’ involvement in the Strap Gang, along with Preston Walls, who was found guilty last month of second-degree murder in connection to the Starts Right Here shooting, on Tuesday.
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. Tukes is charged with two counts of first-degree murder, attempted murder, willful injury, and criminal gang participation.
Evidence presented by the prosecution focused on Tukes’s involvement with Preston Walls in gang activity, with Tukes even being on the scene of a gang gun battle. The prosecution showed social media messages about a possible shooting, specifically on the morning of January 23, 2023, which is when the deadly shooting at Starts Right Here took place, and a post was made after a 16-year-old was shot and killed by Des Moines Police officers.
“Yes, this was a social media post made on Instagram by Mr. Tukes,” Jeffrey George, a detective with the Des Moines Police Department, said of a post shown by the prosecution. “This was posted on Dec. 27, so this would have been the day after Travontay Jenkins was killed. Mr. Tukes has a semi-automatic handgun in his right pocket, then the Draco AK-47 in his left hand, and the caption says, ‘it’s gonna be a bloody murder scene.’”
Defense attorneys took issue with some of the messages that were not questioned, including one that showed Tukes was set to get his driver’s license the same day of the planned shooting at Starts Right Here. Also, they questioned how a man driving a car with no license plates could expect not to get caught driving the getaway car.
“How do you reconcile the choice to use a getaway car that doesn’t have license plates?” asked defense attorney, Jamie Deremiah.
“So, my opinion, they parked at a location a half mile way from the scene where this was occurring, you truck across one major road and a river to get to that location where they staged the getaway,” said Detective George. “Mr. Tukes left that area, there’s a lot of vehicles in Des Moines, large police response to the school. But, as chance or fate, there’s an uninvolved dark sedan with no license plates observed leaving. That vehicle was completely ruled out, but it did have a new message description — Mr. Tukes’ vehicle — and then Officer Danti saw it.”
On Wednesday, Preston Walls is expected to take the witness stand to testify in defense of Tukes.