116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS -- The Taboo Nighclub & Lounge was packed for ‘90s night April 10, when Dimione Walker arrived in the early morning hours. He joined the fun, dancing and talking with friends, a prosecutor said Monday during her opening statement in Walker’s trial.
But his mood seemed to change when he spotted Michael Valentine, who arrived about 1:30 a.m., Assistant Linn County Attorney Rena Schulte said. Video shows Walker staring at Valentine, but Valentine is having fun and is preoccupied talking with friends and his girlfriend.
Walker moves over by one of the exits, then stops and moves into the crowd near Valentine, who still is talking to people, Schulte said. Walker then turns away from Valentine but as Valentine reaches out to another friend, Walker “spins around” and starts shooting a 9 mm pistol at Valentine.
Schulte told the jury the surveillance video will show Valentine’s hands go up as he tries to block his face and it shows he doesn’t have a weapon. Walker fires eight rounds, striking Valentine five times before he falls to the floor.
As Valentine is dying on the floor, Walker runs out a nearby exit.
Monday was the first day of testimony in the first-degree murder trial of Walker, 29, of Coralville, following about three days of jury selection last week. Walker is also charged with going armed with intent and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
He is claiming self-defense in the fatal shooting of Valentine, 25, of Cedar Rapids.
There were 10 others also injured during the club shooting. Another man, Timothy Rush, 32, of Cedar Rapids, is charged with killing Nicole Owens, 35, and Marvin L. Cox, 31, the same night. Rush’s trial is set for March 28.
Sarah Hradek, Walker’s lawyer, admitted that this “isn’t a whodunit.” Walker shot Valentine but it was self-defense. She agreed with Schulte that the jurors will see a video that shows Walker shooting Valentine, but she asked the jurors to keep in mind why this happened because the video won’t reveal that.
The defense will show evidence that Valentine had a history of shooting Walker since 2016 where Walker and another person were treated for injuries at a hospital, Hradek, during her opening said.
The defense will show evidence that Valentine was known to carry a gun and was a “danger” to the community, Hradek said. Valentine was in prison for gun charges from 2016 to shortly before this shooting.
Hradek again agreed with the prosecution that the jurors would see Walker in the club having a good time until Valentine walked in. Walker’s demeanor then changed. He was staring at Valentine, and within three minutes, Valentine is on the floor and Walker leaves the club.
Walker believed Valentine would “cause him great harm,” and he reacted the only way he could in protecting himself.
Hradek asked the jury to wait and listen to all the evidence and not just consider a few seconds of a video. Walker acted in self-defense and the prosecution “can’t prove he didn’t,” she said.
Video of shooting
The video from April 10 in the club was shown to the jury Monday. It showed a crowded club and dance floor. Everyone seemed to be having fun until the melee breaks out.
Walker, wearing a stocking cap, starts shooting at Valentine, who is wearing a white T-shirt and a white shirt wrapped around his head. Walker starts backing away and goes out the exit, the opposite direction from where Valentine fell to the floor.
Another video clip is shown, closer to the bar area from a different angle and once Walker starts shooting, the crowd ducks and scrambles to get out. Others fall to the floor and try to move away.
Morris Williams, a friend of Valentine’s, said he and Valentine went to the club together. He didn’t remember much of the night because he’s “blocked it out,” but it was a “normal” night before the shooting.
Williams was next to Valentine as they were making their way through the crowd. The shooting happened quickly and he saw Valentine on the floor and went over to him. Williams said he was in shock and doesn’t remember if Valentine was breathing or not.
Williams said he didn’t know Walker.
In other testimony, police investigators talked about responding to the call and recovering the shell cartridges from inside the club.
Cedar Rapids police Sgt. Matthew Gorman said when he got to the scene, he saw about 30 to 40 people running out. As he went inside and down the stairs to the club, another 30 people were running up the stairs, trying to get out.
When he got inside, Gorman said Valentine was on his back, his eyes were open but he wasn’t breathing. Paramedics then arrived and confirmed he was dead.
Investigator Martin Eganhouse, who works in the crime scene unit, identified photos of Valentine’s body lying near the DJ stand in the club. The body was partially in the doorway of the employee’s room. He said the body had been dragged from where Valentine initially was shot.
Eganhouse said all the spent cartridges were from a semi-automatic 9 mm pistol.
Another crime scene investigator, Jessica Harden said she collected eight casings — meaning eight bullets were fired — from the scene. Most were found near the north wall, near where the body was found.
Gazette reporter Trish Mehaffey continues her live coverage from the courtroom on Tuesday.
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