Seven months ago, Judge J. Michael Coffey changed his mind, trashed a prison order and gave former high school basketball standout Benny “BJ” Valentine a chance on probation.
Not this time.
Lamenting that Valentine had squandered several opportunities — including Coffey's probation order — Coffey sentenced Valentine last week to 18 months to 2 years in prison.
The judge imposed the term after Valentine admitted he violated his probation by traveling to Texas and participating in a robbery that ended in the death of former Creighton Prep basketball standout Nedu Onyeuku.
The Nebraska prison term may not be the end of the consequences for Valentine, 26. Police in Plano, Texas, have issued a warrant for his arrest on aggravated robbery charges in connection with the home invasion.
After he serves his Nebraska term — which equates to about a year in prison, real time — Valentine will be transported to Plano to be booked on the robbery charge, Plano Police Officer David Tilley said Monday.
If convicted in Texas, he'd face anywhere from 5 to 99 years in prison, Tilley said.
Five days after he was placed on probation, Plano police say, Valentine traveled to the Dallas suburb to take part in a robbery with Onyeuku, his friend. The 29-year-old Onyeuku — once a star at Omaha Creighton Prep — died Nov. 21 when a homeowner shot at two men who had shattered a glass patio door at his Plano house.
Rumors immediately surfaced in Omaha that Valentine was the second burglar and that his relatives had driven to Texas to bring him back to Nebraska.
Then, on April 9, Valentine called his probation officer. According to a court document, Valentine told the probation officer that he “went to Plano, Texas, and his intention was to do a home invasion — the plan was to rob a known drug dealer.”
Assistant Public Defender Rob Marcuzzo said everyone associated with Valentine was disheartened by his choices.
Judge Coffey rattled off all the opportunities Valentine had through basketball — from attending Creighton Prep and Omaha Central High Schools to Texas Tech and Eastern Washington Universities. He earned a business degree from Eastern Washington.
At the time of his arrest, Valentine had been working as an auto detailer. And he was dealing small amounts of marijuana.
That led to two arrests last year. On July 31, 2012, Omaha police pulled over Valentine for rolling through a stop sign. His car smelled of marijuana and officers found $1,120 in cash and about 145 grams of marijuana — the equivalent of 145 marijuana joints.
Valentine told officers he sold small amounts to his friends so he could keep “some of the weed for free,” according to Marcuzzo.
Valentine also had been charged with being a felon in possession of a weapon in connection with an April 2012 traffic stop in which officers found him with marijuana, $1,148 in cash and a gun in the car. However, Marcuzzo said, the gun belonged to someone else, and prosecutors dropped that charge.
Valentine also received a break for crimes he committed at the end of high school.
He was convicted of two felonies in 2005. One involved the possession of a gun. In a separate incident, prosecutors say, the then-18-year-old was an accessory to a carjacking. Valentine faced up to 10 years in prison, but a judge sentenced him to 60 days in jail and three years of probation.
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