September 2, 2014

Trial underway for Rockwell City man in shooting of police officer

The trial of a northwest Iowa man charged in the shooting death of a policeman is getting underway. Jury selection will begin today in the trial of 33-year-old Corey Trott of Rockwell City in Wright County District Court in Clarion.

Trott is accused of first degree murder in the death of Rockwell City Police Officer Jamie Buenting nearly a year ago on September 13, 2013. Officer Buenting was shot by Trott after a standoff in his residence. The trial was moved to Wright County from Calhoun County due to pretrial publicity. Trott is in the Webster County Jail on the murder charge filed against him.

(Reporting by Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City)


Ex-teacher faces more child sex crime allegations

A former high school English teacher in Montezuma who was charged last year with inappropriate sexual contact with four students now faces more charges.

This past June someone told authorities 28-year-old Derek John Bates had committed sexual acts with two more students. These incidents allegedly occured two years ago, during the spring and early summer of 2012. Authorities interviewed the two students, who said the incidents occured off of school grounds. Bates was arrested Friday and charged with two counts of sexual abuse in the third degree and one count of sexual exploitation by a school employee.

Bates had been a teacher at the school from the fall of 2009 ’til October of 2012 when he resigned after being charged with drinking alcohol in a classroom with a 17-year-old student. Last summer Bates was charged with third degree sexual abuse and other sex-related charges based on the testimony of four other students.

Eastern Iowa veteran given probation on weapons charge

A former member of the military from eastern Iowa who served two tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq was sentenced to five years of probation on a weapons charge. Thirty-one-year-old Matthew James Stover of Cedar Rapids pled guilty in November to one count of possessing a semiautomatic assault rifle and ammunition as an unlawful drug user.

Marion police found the weapon and ammunition after Stover purchased marijuana in a park in Marion and they obtained a search warrant. Information from the U.S. Attorney’s office says Stover will be required to undergo continued mental health treatment, to abstain from alcohol or drugs, undergo remote alcohol testing, and not being permitted in the unsupervised presence of a child under the age of 12, including his minor daughter. He could have faced 30 to 37 months in prison.

The judge noted Stover has been diagnosed as suffering from several mental health conditions, including PTSD. Judge Linda Reade said Stover has performed well under pre-trial treatment and supervision, and noted this was not a “run of the mill case.”

The judge indicated a reluctance to interfere with Stover’s mental health treatment he’s been getting from the VA for about the past year. She noted Stover got a job with the VA and has been fully compliant with the conditions of treatment for the past year. She did say any violation of the parole terms could lead to prison time.


State Patrol warns Labor Day drivers to use caution

Patrol-carState law enforcement officials are warning that the Labor Day weekend is historically one of the most dangerous holiday weekends on Iowa roadways.

Sergeant Scott Bright, with the Iowa State Patrol, says in 2013, the Labor Day weekend had the second most traffic fatalities among the six holidays tracked by the Iowa DOT.

“Last year, we had four fatalities. One was alcohol-related, so we’re recommending if people get out there this weekend and have too much to drink, they should make sure they don’t get behind the wheel and they call somebody to take them home,” Bright says.

With nearly two-thirds of 2014 complete, Bright says the state is on pace to potentially record the fewest traffic fatalities in decades.

“Last year, we had 317 fatalities in the state, which has been the lowest in over 40 years. Right now, we’re at 193. We’re five ahead of this time last year, so we’d like to see that number go down,” Bright said.

The 317 traffic fatalities last year was the lowest total since 1944. According to Bright, 75 of last year’s fatal traffic crashes were alcohol or drug-related.


Attorney General sues Fort Dodge cosmetology college

The Iowa Attorney General’s office is suing the Fort Dodge-based La James International College on consumer fraud charges, alleging deceptive and unfair practices. The lawsuit was filed in Polk County District Court and stated that many of the students experiences is that it’s a school with extraordinary turnover on instructors, resulting in classrooms with no instructors, inconsistent instruction, lack of access to practice their skills and an institution that treats the instructors more like free labor than students.

La James operates cosmetology and massage schools and salons in Cedar Falls, Cedar Rapids, Davenport, Fort Dodge, Iowa City and Johnston. The company is privately owned by Cynthia Becher. The lawsuit seeks a court order banning the defendants from misleading and concealing material information from students, unspecified reimbursement to students and unspecified penalties and costs.

There has been no comment by La James officials on the lawsuit filed Thursday.

(Reporting by Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City)


Former Malvern city clerk accused of theft

A former southwest Iowa library director is charged with theft after an audit identified thousands of dollars of improper billing for personal items. Forty-one-year-old Stacey Buick was the library director in Malvern. An audit released earlier this month concluded Buick altered receipts and billed the city for nearly $33,000 worth of big ticket items, like a home theater system and a window air conditioner as well as smaller purchases, like laundry detergent and Easter candy.

Buick resigned from the job last year. She’s been charged with ongoing criminal conduct as well as theft.


Oelwein council fills position left open after mayor’s arrest

The Oelwein city council has filled the open mayor’s position. At last night’s special council meeting, the council voted to make an appointment to fill the mayoral seat, vacated by Jason Manus, who resigned after being charged with sexually abusing two girls.

After long discussion over the options of making an appointment or calling for a special election, the council moved to make an appointment to fill the seat. Mayor Pro-tem Peggy Sherrets was then named to the post. The council also then moved to make an appointment to fill Sherret’s council seat, and named Ted Malget to fill it until the next regular election, which comes up in a little over a year.

Residents still may petition for a special election to fill the two seats; 157 signatures would be needed.

(Reporting by Roger King, KOEL, Oelwein)