Jury selection has begun today in eastern Iowa in the trial of a Cedar Rapids man charged with the murder of a former western Iowa man. Twenty-six-year old Christopher R. Smith was charged with first degree murder in connection with last December’s bar stool beating death of 24-year-old Robert Nelson, formerly of Atlantic. Schmidt allegedly attacked Nelson December 28th as the men quarreled over money related to car repairs.
Nelson’s body was found three days later in his Cedar Rapids apartment. Schmidt was arrested nearly a week after the incident. He initially denied killing Nelson, but later admitted to the crime. A judge ruled earlier this year that part of Schmidt’s statement to police is inadmissible as evidence, because they came after he’d already told investigators he didn’t want to talk.
Nelson graduated from the Atlantic High School in 2000. He’d moved to Cedar Rapids to be closer to his sisters.