Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

May 31, 2014

‘It’s like a crime show’; Prostitution, drug use, mistaken identity part of police investigation

BLUEFIELD — Mistaken identity, identical clothing, confessions of prostitution and cocaine use and allegations of attempted sexual assault are part of a city investigation likened to a television crime show.

Damon Valentine, 31, of Bluefield, was arrested and charged with unlawful assault Friday morning in connection with the beating and robbery of a Bluefield man, Daniel Baker, 54, on May 22, according to Detective K.L. Adams of the Bluefield Police Department.

A second man, Jaime Price, no age available, of Bluefield, is also being sought in connection with the beating, Adams said.

Meanwhile, charges including conspiracy, first-degree robbery and assault during commission of a felony on William Wetzel, 21, were dropped, as was a conspiracy charge against Jimmy Cook, 21. The charges were dropped after an anonymous tip was reported to the Bluefield Police Department clearing their names, Adams said.

• • •

The saga began on Friday, May 23, when Adams responded to a report of a man seriously injured on Jefferson Street. After arriving on the scene, Adams discovered that Baker had been severely beaten. Both of the victim’s eyes were swollen shut and his body was bloody, Adams stated in his report.

Video cameras from local businesses showed three suspects, two whom rushed into Baker’s yard and assaulted him, while another watched from across the street.

Adams distributed photos of the suspects to officers with the Bluefield Police Department. “On the morning of May 27 officer Justin Harris observed a white male subject wearing the exact same clothes as one of the suspects walking on Bland Street. Harris made contact with the subject and identified him as Jimmy Cook of Lewis Street,” Adam’s report stated.

Adams located Cook and Wetzel, who matched the description of the second subject, at a house on Union Street.

“... Jimmy Cook admitted that he was one of the subjects that night. Cook stated that William Wetzel was the second male and the one that beat Baker that night,” according to the report.

Both men were arrested.

• • •

Adams later received an anonymous tip that the female subject involved in the assault was Kayla Price, no age available, of Princeton.

During questioning at the police department, Kayla Price said that she was at the Hot Stop on Bland Street on the evening of May 21 when Baker approached her and solicited her for oral sex, according to Adams’ report.

The report also stated that Kayla Price said she went with Baker to his residence, where she performed oral sex for $30 after which Baker took her back to the Hot Stop.

Kayla Price said that her husband, Jaime Price, later asked her how much she had made, and requested to use the $30 to buy cocaine for himself and Valentine, according to Adams.

When Kayla Price refused to use the money for drugs, Jaime Price and Valentine then asked her to return to Baker’s residence and ask him for more money, Adams states in the report.

“Kayla (Price) said she reluctantly did so,” the report stated, and while there Baker offered her “a glass of water and gave her a blue Xanax pill.”

According to the report, Kayla Price also stated that Baker tried to get her to sleep with him, but she refused. When she attempted to leave, Kayla Price alleged that Baker “grabbed her hair” and attempted to sexually assault her.

Price told Detective Adams that she screamed while trying to get away from Baker, and that is when Jaime Price and Valentine ran to her aid and struck Baker, knocking him to the ground. “Kayla (Price) advised Damon (Valentine) struck Baker by kicking him repeatedly.”

• • •

On Friday, Adams located Valentine on Stadium Drive and he confirmed the statement given by Kayla Price. “Valentine stated that he was outside the residence when he heard Kayla (Price) scream and saw her exit the home pursued by Baker,” the police report stated. “Valentine said that he and Jaime Price then fought with Baker before fleeing the scene to Lewis Street.”

Valentine was arrested Friday and arraigned in front of Mercer County Magistrate Susan Honaker, who set a $50,000 surety bond. Valentine will appear in front of a circuit court judge on Monday on a parole violation from a previous drug conviction.

He is currently incarcerated at the Bluefield City Jail.

• • •

So why the false confession by Cook?

Adams brought Cook in for follow-up questioning after his interview with Kayla Price and the arrest of Valentine.

Cook told Adams he “honestly believed” he had committed the crime after seeing the video from the early morning hours of May 22, the police report stated. “Cook said that he was wearing a matching jacket that Valentine was wearing, and had been walking with William Wetzel who was wearing a matching jacket as Jaime Price was wearing that night.”

Additionally, Cook lives at the same apartment complex as Jaime Price and Valentine.

“Cook advised that he had been drinking, smoking marijuana and using cocaine all day and did not remember much of that night,” Adams stated in his report.

Following Friday’s court proceedings, Adams noted the unusual nature of the investigation.

“It’s like a crime show on TV,” he said.

— Contact Anne Elgin at aelgin@bdtonline.com

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