A man serving prison time for paralyzing a police officer was the key witness Thursday in the trial of a man accused of shooting a sheriff's major in the face.
John Waldenville was off-duty and carrying a $6,000 bank deposit for Cattlemen's Steakhouse when he was shot in May 2011.
Joshua Rinken testified that during jailhouse conversations Christopher Baker admitted to the shooting. During one conversation, Baker recounted running up behind Waldenville and trying to grab bank bags from the lawman, Rinken said.
A “tussle” ensued, Rinken said Baker told him.
“As he was turning around, he looked like he was reaching for his gun,” Rinken testified Baker said.
“I had to shoot him … if I didn't I would be a memory today,” Rinken said Baker told him.
Rinken also testified that Baker said he panicked the day after the shooting when he saw police outside his girlfriend's apartment complex.
Rinken said Baker told him he put on a skirt, wig and high-heeled shoes to avoid being identified when he and his girlfriend drove past the guard station to another location.
Rinken, 29, of Norman, was sentenced in July to 10 years in prison and 10 years probation for his role in the Feb. 15, 2011, attack on Oklahoma City police officer Chad Peery.
As part of a plea agreement, Rinken agreed to testify against Baker, 30, of Oklahoma City, who is charged with shooting and robbing Waldenville after he left Cattlemen's Steakhouse to make a bank deposit just after midnight May 21, 2011.
Waldenville, 61, worked security for the restaurant.
Rinken also testified Baker told him he should have known better than to trust co-defendant Keonte Prince because Baker said “he put in all the work and he split the money with Prince.”
On cross-examination, Baker's attorney, Craig Hoehns implied Rinken would say anything to avoid a life sentence, the maximum punishment for his guilty plea to an aggravated assault and battery charge.
Hoehns said it was more “advantageous” for Rinken to “snitch out” Baker than Prince, who confessed to planning the robbery with Baker.
“I wouldn't come here to lie, if that's what you're implying,” Rinken said.
The father of 5- and 7-year-old boys said he testified for the good of his family.
“I made the decision for my kids, not for me,” Rinken said. “If I could get home sooner I would do it.”
Prince, 19, of Oklahoma City, a former Cattlemen's dishwasher, testified at Baker's preliminary hearing that he saw Baker struggle briefly with Waldenville before shooting him.
Prince is not expected to face trial in the case, prosecutors said.
A copy of Prince's transcript was read to jurors Wednesday. In it, Prince said he and Baker approached Waldenville as walked to a nearby bank. Prince, though, stopped about five feet short of the lawman.
“I got too close to him,” Prince said. “If I snatch these bags I'm dead.”
Joshua Rinken is imprisoned for breaking Chad Peery's neck when the off-duty Oklahoma City police officer tried to escort him from a bar.