The Arrest of Shane Teslik and the Criminal Charges
On Feb. 27, 2023, the Linn County Attorney’s Office authorized criminal charges against Shane Teslik, age 37, related to the stabbing death of Devonna Walker on Jan. 2, 2023, at 2135 North Towne Court NE, Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Shane Teslik, age 37, was arrested today in another county in Iowa on a Linn County warrant for the crimes of Voluntary Manslaughter and Disorderly Conduct. His transport to Linn County will occur in the coming days and he will then make an initial appearance on the charges. At the time of his initial appearance, a copy of the criminal complaint will be made available.
The complaint will contain the statement of probable cause for these charges. No further information regarding the details of the incident will be released beyond what is contained in the criminal complaint. This is now an ongoing prosecution and remains an ongoing criminal investigation up to and including the time of the disposition of this case in criminal court.
It should be noted that the defendant is innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
The Timeline of the Investigation into this Homicide
Much attention has been paid to the timeline for this investigation. The Linn County Attorney’s Office and the Cedar Rapids Police Department have done their best to be transparent while protecting the integrity of the investigation.
This incident occurred on Jan. 2, 2023. On that evening, the Cedar Rapids Police Department had gathered some initial information from the scene of the alleged crime and did have access to the cell phone video. The CRPD consulted with Linn County Attorney Nick Maybanks and it was determined that more information was needed in order to make a decision on what, if any, criminal charges were warranted, particularly given the likelihood of a claim being made by the suspect of self-defense or defense of others. This included gathering witness statements and investigating the history between the parties, among other matters. This is a very typical approach to the investigation of criminal charges of the most serious nature. It should be noted that law enforcement and prosecutors not only investigate potential criminal charges but also likely defenses to the crimes, such as justification.
Initially, a referral was also made to the local FBI Office for consideration of a hate crime under federal law. The CRPD was informed by the FBI that the case facts did not warrant a hate crime under federal law at that time. State law only allows for the filing of a charge based on violation of individual rights for misdemeanor offenses.
The CRPD initially forwarded the investigative materials to the Linn County Attorney’s Office on Jan. 12, 2023, however, the CRPD and the Linn County Attorney’s Office continued to work together on this case. It was determined that there were witnesses who needed to be interviewed and follow-up that needed to be done. The final autopsy report from the Iowa State Medical Examiner’s Office had also not been received. This collaboration continued until approximately Feb. 3, 2023. On that date, the Linn County Attorney announced that a decision on whether to file charges would be made by the end of this month as his attention would be focused on prosecuting the case of State of Iowa v. Stanley Donahue beginning the following week and he expected that trial to last just over two weeks. He determined that the Walker case needed further review.
The case did not remain stale during those two weeks. In order to ensure an “all hands on deck” review of the case, Linn County Attorney Nick Maybanks requested First Assistant Linn County Attorney Monica Slaughter and Criminal Division Head Jordan Schier to review the case. The Linn County Attorney also referred consideration of the case to the Iowa Attorney General’s Office for an advisory opinion. The unique facts and circumstances and legal considerations of this case warranted this collaborative review. On Feb. 23, 2023, the Linn County Attorney discussed the case with the Iowa Attorney General’s office and it was determined that their opinion was consistent with the opinion favored by the Linn County Attorney. After further consideration and coordination with the Cedar Rapids Police Department, the charges in this case were authorized.
Statement by Linn County Attorney Nick Maybanks Addressing Public Criticism of the Investigation and the Demand for an Arrest
“First of all, I would like to reiterate my support for the family and friends of Devonna Walker who are still mourning her passing and express my deepest sympathy to them as they continue to grieve.
Regarding the public criticism of the investigation, I support the constitutional right of citizen and activist groups to express their concerns about the functioning of the criminal justice system. Now that charges have been filed, I’d like to address the public criticism of the investigation and the demands that have been made for an arrest.
First, the decision to file these criminal charges was in no way influenced by any protest or “demand” for arrest. It was solely based on our review of the facts of the case and the applicable law. To be abundantly clear, allowing public pressure or a public demand for arrest to influence the decision to file criminal charges would be highly inappropriate.
Second, there were numerous inaccuracies promoted by activists about the facts of this case, the law, and the investigative process. I will not respond to them all, however, I do want to address some comments head-on.
Our office and our law enforcement partners have and will always conduct a prudent and thorough investigation into serious crimes regardless of the race of the victim or the suspect. Some activists have claimed that this case would have been handled differently if the suspect was Black and the victim was white. These claims against the Cedar Rapids Police Department and the Linn County Attorney’s Office are entirely unfounded. These claims are unnecessarily divisive. These claims only serve only to foment distrust between law enforcement and prosecutors and the community we serve. We wholeheartedly reject these claims.
Finally, the police in this community respond to calls involving deadly violence on a regular basis. The police want to arrest those legally responsible. Our prosecutors also want to hold violent offenders accountable. Let it be known that if you truly stand against all violence, we are on your side and always have been. Help us stop the violence together.”