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Citing conflict, public defenders want off Iowa murder trial

NEWTON, Iowa (AP) — Public defenders are seeking to stop representing an Iowa man charged with murder after revelations that their boss moonlights for a police department involved in the case.

Lawyers with the special defense unit of the State Public Defender’s office said in a filing Wednesday that they now believe their representation of Jeffrey Stendrup is a conflict of interest. They have asked a judge for permission to withdraw.

Their supervisor, special defense unit director Mike Adams, works on the side as a reserve police officer with the Colfax Police Department.

Its officers are prosecution witnesses against Stendrup, who is charged in the 2018 beating death of a man at a Colfax home.

The public defenders had disclosed the potential conflict at a hearing last month but indicated they planned to continue representing Stendrup. They said in Wednesday’s filing that they have learned additional information since then that changes their analysis.

If approved, their withdrawal would likely delay Stendrup’s Oct. 23 trial date.


2 charged say they were hired to break into Iowa courthouse

(Information from: The Des Moines Register,

ADEL, Iowa (AP) — Two men arrested on suspicion of breaking into a central Iowa courthouse say they were hired to test the building’s alarm system.

The Des Moines Register reports 29-year-old Justin Wynn of Naples, Florida, and 43-year-old Gary Demercurio of Seattle were found in the Dallas County Courthouse early Wednesday after an alarm was tripped. Both face burglary charges and are being held on $50,000 bond apiece.

The men told deputies they worked for the cybersecurity firm Coalfire and had been hired to test the courthouse alarm system. The state court administration acknowledged hiring the firm but only to test the security of electronic access to court records, not for “forced entry into a building.”

No attorney is listed for the men in online court records. Messages left Thursday with Coalfire and Sheriff Chad Leonard were not immediately returned.



Police ID man killed in shootout with Iowa officers

BURLINGTON, Iowa (AP) — Police in southeastern Iowa have identified a man killed in a shootout with law enforcement officers.

The Division of Criminal Investigation says 20-year-old Caleb Daniel Peterson, of Burlington, was the suspect killed in the exchange. An autopsy has been ordered.

Police say Burlington police officers and a Des Moines County deputy responded to a call of shots fired at 12:50 a.m. Wednesday, spotted Peterson’s truck minutes later and initiated a traffic stop. Investigators say initial reports indicate Peterson got out pointing a gun at officers and fled on foot.

The agency says both Peterson and officers fired multiple rounds during the subsequent chase. The officers weren’t injured, but Peterson was mortally wounded and pronounced dead at a hospital.


Drake basketball player charged after off-campus shooting

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A Drake men’s basketball player has been charged with an off-campus shooting that he says was accidental.

Des Moines police say Tremell Murphy was charged Thursday with discharging a firearm inside city limits and making false reports to law enforcement. Court records don’t list the name of an attorney who could comment for him.

A university spokesman says Murphy has been removed from basketball activities. Murphy was a starting forward for the Bulldogs as a junior last year.

Police say the shooting occurred the night of Aug. 31 during a party at a home near campus. Officers found a 19-year-old man bleeding from his head and noticed a bullet hole in a nearby wall, leading them to believe the shot had come from Murphy’s adjacent room. Police say Murphy first insisted the man had fallen but later acknowledged he’d accidentally fired the .22-caliber bullet.


Patrol says sleeping man in car woke up, attacked trooper

GRETNA, Neb. (AP) — Authorities say a man sleeping in a pickup truck attacked a Nebraska state trooper who awakened him.

The Nebraska State Patrol says the 44-year-old man from Council Bluffs, Iowa, was arrested Wednesday night on suspicion of assault and other crimes. Court records don’t yet show that he’s been formally charged.

The patrol says the pickup was suspected of involvement in a hit-and-run crash in Omaha and then another in the parking lot at the Nebraska Crossing shopping center south of Gretna. The patrol says the trooper spotted the pickup in the lot.

The trooper knocked on a pickup window several times before the man woke up. He soon threw open a door, hitting the trooper in the chest, and then got out and attacked.

Eventually the trooper deployed a stun gun to subdue the man. A gun was found in a backpack in the truck, as well as several containers of marijuana and some alcohol.


6-month-old injured; day care provider charged

CLIVE, Iowa (AP) — Authorities have charged a day care provider who, police say, acknowledged shaking a 6-month-old girl.

Clive Police Chief Michael Venema said in a news release Thursday that 55-year-old Tina Welch is charged with child endangerment causing serious injury. Court records don’t list the name of an attorney who could comment for her.

Venema says medics went to Welch’s in-home day care business in Clive on Aug. 21 to help the child, who was having breathing problems. The infant was soon taken to a hospital.

A medical examination showed the girl had suffered brain bleeding and a spinal fracture. Police say Welch told investigators Monday that she’d shaken the infant.

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