Iowa News

Newton jury finds man guilty of aiding in wife's murder
NEWTON, Iowa (AP) — A Newton jury has convicted a man of helping his mother stab his wife to death in 2013. Jurors handed over the verdict finding 40-year-old Dustin Jefferson guilty of aiding and abetting first-degree murder in the death of his wife. His mother, Ginger Jefferson, is serving life in prison for first-degree murder in the September 2013 attack of 32-year-old Kerry O'Clair Jefferson. The trial is the state's third attempt to convict Dustin Jefferson. His first two trials were both in Tama County. The first ended during jury selection and jurors could not reach a unanimous verdict in the second trial. The trial moved to Newton after a judge granted a change of venue.

Linn County searches for storage for up to 700,000 documents
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) — Linn County will soon have to find a new home for thousands of court documents that are being stored in a rented space. The city of Cedar Rapids is working to buy the Hubbard Ice building, where the county stores up to 700,000 court documents, and will likely demolish it to make room for a flood wall. The county spends nearly $50,000 annually to rent the space, but it doesn't have a choice. State code says the county must keep civil case files for 10 years after settlement and criminal case files for 10 years after a completed sentence. The county said it has until the end of the year to find a new place for the files. Supervisors have found a potential location, but won't announce it until a deal is made.

Some Republicans announce support for medical marijuana bill
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Some Republican House lawmakers are supporting legislation that would create a system for manufacturing, distributing and possessing some forms of medical marijuana in Iowa, though it's unclear what type of support the bill will get from party leaders. The bill would expand the state's current law on medical marijuana, which allows some epilepsy patients to use cannabis oil. The new legislation would expand it to include more products and patients, though it would prohibit the smoking of medical marijuana. Rep. Peter Cownie, chairman of the House Commerce Committee, discussed the bill during a press conference Tuesday while surrounded by a handful of Republican lawmakers. The West Des Moines Republican was vague when asked about the bill's support within his caucus. He asked lawmakers to keep an open mind.

Police identify man found dead in Des Moines home fire
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Police have identified the man who was found inside a fire-damaged Des Moines home after he resisted officers' rescue attempts. Police announced that 48-year-old Neil Johnston, of Des Moines, died during the incident early Tuesday. Officers were sent just after midnight to check a disturbance and saw Johnston inside the home. The officers say he wouldn't open a door and threatened them, claiming he had a gun. The officers say they then saw a fire erupt inside. The officers broke into the home and tried to rescue Johnston. They say he resisted, and soon they were forced out by the flames and smoke. Firefighters sent to the home put out the blaze and found Johnston's body. Investigators say the fire was intentionally started.

Iowa college to hire shooting coach despite alumni objection
INDIANOLA, Iowa (AP) — An Iowa college is sticking with its decision to hire a full-time coach for its shooting sports club, despite opposition from alumni and other supporters who say guns have no place on a liberal arts campus. Simpson College President Jay Simmons says in an email that the school's board of trustees considered two dueling petitions about the student club's future at its regular winter meeting Friday. Simmons said the board will still hire a full-time coach and that an offer for the position will likely be made to a candidate this week. An online petition favoring a "weapons-free Simpson" opposed a $10,000 grant the club accepted from the National Shooting Sports Foundation in 2012. The petition asked the trustees to not hire a coach and to stop allowing firearms to be stored on campus.

Iowa college to hire shooting coach despite alumni objection
INDIANOLA, Iowa (AP) — An Iowa college is sticking with its decision to hire a full-time coach for its shooting sports club, despite opposition from alumni and others who say guns have no place on the liberal arts school's campus. Simpson College President Jay Simmons says the school's board of trustees considered two dueling petitions about the student club's future on Friday. Simmons says the board decided to hire a full-time coach and that the position will likely be offered to a candidate this week. An online petition favoring a "weapons-free Simpson" opposed a $10,000 grant the club accepted from the National Shooting Sports Foundation in 2012. The petition asked the trustees to not hire a coach and to stop allowing firearms to be stored on campus.

Police release name of Sioux City officer shot over weekend
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) — Sioux City police have identified the officer who was shot by a suspect during a weekend arrest. Police Chief Doug Young announced Monday that 42-year-old officer Ryan Moritz suffered a gunshot wound to his thigh during a Sunday morning arrest. He is expected to make a full recovery. The incident happened when officers were following up on a number of reported robberies and burglaries. Police accused 18-year-old Isiah Mothershed of shooting Moritz and shooting himself in the leg during a struggle with police. Mothershed was treated Monday at Mercy Medical Center, which declined to say Tuesday if he'd been released. Mothershed was charged with two counts of attempted murder and five counts of robbery. Court records don't show an attorney who could comment on his behalf.

State district judge confirmed to Iowa federal court
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A Polk County district court judge has been approved to serve as a judge in one of Iowa's federal courts. Sen. Chuck Grassley announced Monday that the U.S. Senate approved Rebecca Ebinger's nomination to serve as a U.S. district judge for the Southern District of Iowa. President Barack Obama nominated Ebinger on Sept. 15 and the Senate unanimously approved the nomination Monday. Her nomination will return to Obama for final approval. Ebinger has served as a state district judge in Iowa since 2012. Prior to that, she was an assistant U.S. attorney in the southern district's criminal division, and she served in a similar role for the U.S. court for the northern district of Iowa from 2009 to 2011. She received her law degree from Yale Law School in 2004.

Iowa high court to consider state's ban on voting by felons
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa Supreme Court will consider whether to relax the state's lifetime ban on voting by convicted felons. The court said last week it would hear the case, which could clear up confusion over which of the state's tens of thousands of former offenders are eligible to vote. The ACLU, the NAACP and other groups want justices to restore voting rights to many of them before the November presidential election, when Iowa could be a pivotal state. Iowa is one of three states that have lifetime voting bans for felons unless their rights are restored by the governor. At issue is the definition of the phrase "infamous crime" in the Iowa Constitution, which says anyone convicted of that cannot vote.

Iowa Senate OKs 4 percent hike in future K-12 school budget
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Democratic-controlled Iowa Senate has passed legislation that would establish future state aid for K-12 schools, though the funding remains unclear as lawmakers debate more immediate education costs. The Senate voted on party lines Tuesday for two bills that would set a 4 percent increase to basic state aid for schools in the fiscal year that begins in 2017. They're separate from legislation that would set the same percentage increase in the fiscal year that begins this July. State law requires the legislature to establish such advanced education funding, though lawmakers haven't followed that timeline in recent years. Leaders in the Republican-majority House support a 2 percent increase to state aid for this upcoming fiscal year, arguing there are limited funds. They have not formally proposed funding for future years.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press

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