October 31, 2014

Police fire tear gas into Cherokee man’s home

Police-lightsA standoff in the northwest Iowa town of Cherokee ended early this morning, after a man barricaded himself in a home late last night and threatened to kill himself. Police arrived at the home of 35-year-old Joshua Lee Allender and saw him inside the house, though he refused to come out.

Police say Allender showed a gun from an upstairs window and fired several shots. After several hours of negotiation, police fired tear gas into the house about 3:30 A.M.

Allender was apprehended with no injuries. He’s facing several charges, including: possession and control of firearm, reckless use of a firearm, intimidation with a dangerous weapon, assault while participating in a felony and assault on a police officer.

(Reporting by Nikki Thunder, KCHE, Cherokee)


Supreme Court rules in Waverly lease case

Iowa Supreme Court building.

Iowa Supreme Court building.

The Iowa Supreme Court has overturned lower court ruling that put restrictions on a landlord’s ability to show a building to prospective buyers. Alta Vista properties wished to sell a building in Waverly that included Doctor Richard Mauer of Mauer Vision Center as a tenant.

Mauer refused to let Alta Vista show the building to prospective buyers, citing a provision of the lease that only allows “For Rent” and “For Sale” signs on the property in the last 90 days of the lease. He said that provision also prevented the landlord from showing the property until that 90-day period.

The district court and Iowa Court of Appeals ruled in Mauer’s favor. The Iowa Supreme Court says the restriction only allowing signs in the last 90 days of the lease protects Mauer’s business from having people randomly showing up to try and look at the building. But the court ruled it is not a broad ban on Alta Vista’s ability to show the building at other times.

The court says such a restriction would place an undue burden on the company’s ability to sell its property. It overturned the lower court rulings.

Full ruling:  Lease dispute PDF


Eastern Iowa man sentenced to 75 years in prison for fatal accident

A man who was driving a truck that hit a car, killing three people from Cedar Rapids in August of last year, was sentenced Thursday to 75 years in prison. Authorities said 40-year-old Raul Salazar was driving near Keystone when he blew through a stop sign and hit a car traveling on Highway 30.

All three people in the car were killed; 22-year-old Valerie Schneiders, her boyfriend 24-year-old Jason Bessert, and his 3-year-old daughter Hailey Bessert. Benton County Sheriff’s deputies said Salazar was driving drunk and after the collision, he and a passenger were seen throwing beer bottles from the truck into a nearby cornfield in an effort to conceal evidence.

In September, Salazar agreed to a plea deal that dropped charges of OWI and preventing apprehension. On Thursday, a judge ordered Salazar to serve 25 years in prison for each of three counts of vehicular homicide, to be served consecutively.


Ex-Branstad staffer challenging long-time Democratic attorney general

Adam Gregg

Adam Gregg

The Republican who’s challenging Iowa’s long-term Democratic attorney general was born four years after incumbent Tom Miller first took office. Thirty-one-year-old Adam Gregg left Republican Governor Terry Branstad’s staff this spring to run for attorney general.

“We need an attorney general who stands up every single day for Iowa agriculture, not just in an election year, not just after a political opponent has made it an issue,” Gregg says.

Gregg says Miller had been silent on the Environmental Protection Agency’s controversial rule about water on farmland until Gregg publicly criticized the EPA for over-reach.

“No attorney general in this country has stood up for his farmers like I have,” Miller says in response. “When I first became attorney general I created the first farm division in any attorney general’s office in the county and since then we’ve been the fighter and protector of farmers.”

Miller, who is 70 years old, was first elected attorney general in 1978. Miller was out of office for four years after an unsuccessful run for governor in 1990, but has held the job of attorney general for 32 years.

Tom Miller

Tom Miller

“I love this job,” Miller says. “I think it’s extremely rewarding. I go to work every day enthused. I come back home every night thinking that I did the right thing.”

Gregg questions Miller’s independence.

“It seems like every opportunity he gets he’s siding with the Obama Administration,” Gregg says. “It’s gotten so bad, in fact, that it seems like he’s become Obama’s lawyer and not Iowa’s lawyer.”

Miller says Obama has his own lawyer, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

“I’m the lawyer for the people of Iowa, for the ordinary Iowan, for state government, for Governor Branstad and the agencies,” Miller says.

Miller questions Gregg’s ability to run the office since Gregg has never practiced criminal law. Gregg says as attorney general, his clients would be the citizens of Iowa and he’d focus on protecting their interests.

“I’ve advocated creating a division within the attorney general’s office focused solely on prosecuting cyber crime because, like many of the things in our lives, crime has moved online,” Gregg says.

Gregg grew up in Hawarden and played football at Central College in Pella. He got his law degree from Drake University. Miller is a Dubuque native who graduated from Loras College. Miller got his law degree from Harvard.

Shenandoah man arrested in 2009 death of girlfriend

Brian Davis

Brian Davis

State investigators believe they’ve solved a more than five-year-old murder case in southwest Iowa. Iowa DCI Special Agent in Charge Darrell Simmons says a Shenandoah man was arrested this afternoon for the July 2009 shooting death of 29-year-old Holly Durben.

Simmons says 34-year-old Brian Davis was Durben’s boyfriend. Davis was long considered the prime suspect, but Simmons says new evidence just recently surfaced that will give prosecutors a more solid case.

“We’re not releasing that information. There was just some further investigating that occurred. I guess I really don’t want to go too much into that at this time,” Simmons said.

Brian Davis had placed the 911 call on July 18, 2009 and responding officers found Holly Durben dead in her home, which she shared with Davis. An autopsy determined Durben was shot in the head and had other injuries.

Davis is now being held at the Fremont County Jail on a one-million dollar cash bond.


Moville teen being evaluated after threats that led to 4 school lockdowns

A teenager was taken into custody today for allegedly making threats that led to the lock down of four schools around Sioux City. Woodbury County Sheriff Dave Drew says the parents of 16-year-old Matthew Maxwell of Moville had not heard from him since 9:30 last night.

He had reportedly taken a gun to Siouxland Christian School on Monday and Tuesday. “We were concerned over some threats that were made and notified the schools. Siouxland Christian…the Sioux City Police did the lockdown there. We contacted Woodbury-Central, Lawton-Bronson, and Kingsley-Pierson,” Drew said.

All of those schools were locked down today as police searched for Maxwell, who is a former Woodbury-Central student and has ties to Lawton-Bronson. Drew said Maxwell had a firearm when he was found along a gravel road southeast of Moville, but he was taken into custody “without any incident.”

The teen was taken to a hospital for an evaluation. The Woodbury County Attorney is considering charges in the case.

(Reporting by Woody Gottburg, KSCJ, Sioux City)


Court denies appeal for Cedar Rapids man in daughter’s death

The Iowa Court of Appeals has upheld the conviction of an eastern Iowa man in the death of his young daughter. Twenty-five-year-old Zyriah Schlitter was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment resulting in death following after his 17-month-old daughter died in 2010 from severe head injuries.

Schlitter’s appeal said statements he made to police violated his Miranda rights and he also claimed his attorney was ineffective in several areas. The Appeals Court ruled Schlitter was not in custody during his interview and there was no issue with his Miranda rights. It also ruled that there was enough evidence for the jury to find Schlitter guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and he was not given ineffective representation by his lawyer.

Schlitter is serving up to 55 years in prison for his conviction.

Here’s the complete ruling: Schlitter ruling PDF