November 22, 2014

Waterloo man convicted in Mason City murder case

James Farnsworth

James Farnsworth

A Waterloo man faces up to 50 years in prison after being convicted of murdering a Mason City man last April.

After just over three hours of deliberation by a Cerro Gordo County jury on Thursday afternoon, District Judge Colleen Weiland announced the verdict in the courtroom of the Cerro Gordo County Law Enforcement Center.

James Farnsworth was convicted of second-degree murder in the death of Ian Decker. Farnsworth, who had posted $200-thousand cash bond back in May, was taken into custody shortly after the verdict.

Decker was involved for a number of years in a relationship with Victoria Miller, with Miller later being in a relationship with Farnsworth. On the night of the murder, Farnsworth allegedly slapped Miller while the two were drinking at a downtown bar, with Decker and Farnsworth later getting into an altercation outside an apartment building.

Farnsworth claimed he was acting in self-defense. Cerro Gordo County Attorney Carlyle Dalen says the family of the victim was pleased with the jury’s verdict. He says the outcome was one the family can live with, thinking that Farnsworth should take responsibility for his actions of taking a knife and killing another human being.

He says the family can now get back to their life and can get back to what they have to do in missing a person that they love. Jurors had five choices regarding Farnsworth’s fate: find him guilty of first-degree murder, second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter or to find him not guilty.

Dalen says the events leading up to the fatal fight could have factored into the jurors’ minds in returning the second-degree murder verdict. He says it’s hard to speculate on what the jury did in chambers. Dalen says Decker had come at Farnsworth, and that might have played into the “murder two” verdict.

He says the “murder two” is a very high charge and is still a very high verdict. The defense called only one witness, Miller, to testify regarding the case, and Farnsworth decided not to take the stand in his own defense. Dalen says he wasn’t sure why Farnsworth didn’t take the stand.

He says nothing surprised him anymore, and believes it was something Farnsworth and his attorney talked about what strategy to use and thought it was best to have the jury decide the case on the witnesses that had already taken the stand.

Second-degree murder carries a maximum sentence of 50 years in prison. Farnsworth will have to serve at least 70-percent of his sentence before being considered for parole, meaning that he’ll have to serve at least 35 years if he receives the maximum sentence.

A sentencing date will be set at a later time.

By Bob Fisher, KRIB, Mason City