The Murder Trial of Noah Crooks: Recap


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CLARION, IA – It sounds like a scene out of a movie.

A teenager calls 911, claiming he killed his mother in their home. But this call and the death are both very real.

As we’ve watched the trial of Noah Crooks play out over the past few weeks, it’s been quite the story.

There was jury selection, a glimpse at the possible murder weapon, intense 911 calls and even claims violent video games may have played a role in this crime.

Late April: roughly 80-people enter the Wright County Courthouse as potential jurors. As lawyers questioned them about the tough task at hand, 14-year old Noah Crooks sat just feet away, showing little emotion and barely interacting with his attorney.

A day later, seven women and five men were seated and opening statements began, with Judge James Drew presiding.

The prosecution presents evidence a chilling 911 call from the day Noah said he shot his mother, Gretchen.

“I killed my mom with my .22, I have a dad. I’ve already contacted him, she is dead.”

And jurors heard this phrase frequently throughout that call.

“I don’t know why I did it.”

Several witnesses take the stand including the dispatcher who answered the emergency call in March of 2012.

Then, more graphic evidence; pictures from the crime scene, Noah responded by keeping his head down, not looking at the photos.

We also saw the rifle a .22 – investigators say Noah used to kill his mother. On this day, we’re getting a feel for the defenses’ plan of action. Crooks’ lawyer talked about the boy’s continued mental health issues and how a violent video game may have played into the shooting.

On Thursday we expected another intense day in the Wright County Courthouse. But a late winter snow storm put proceedings on hold.

This wouldn’t be the last delay in this trial.

Friday, we hear emotional testimony from Noah’s father, William, who tells the jury about a text message he received from his son that fateful march day.

“It said Dad you need to come home, I accidentally killed mom,” recalls William Crooks. “Sheriff walked up to me and explained to me that my wife had passed away and that Noah had shot her,” he continues.

By the fourth day of trial, a child psychiatrist, Dr. Donner Dewdney testified he believes Noah suffers from what’s known as intermittent explosive disorder or IED.

But prosecutors aren’t buying it. Their psychiatrist, Dr. James Taylor, says quite the opposite, testifying that the teen didn’t think he needed his mother and could “get away with killing her.”

On May 7th, things are wrapping up with closing arguments.

“The last thing that she saw before she died was her own son raising a gun and pulling the trigger. Do you find that to be evil?” says Assistant Attorney General, Denise Timmins.

“At the time of the shooting itself, Noah Crooks, could not appreciate the nature and consequence of his act, nor could he distinguish between right and wrong at that time,” said Noah’s attorney, William Kutmus.

As the jury deliberated, they had to send a note to Judge Drew.

“Close to hung jury, what do we do,” the note read. Judge Drew told them to keep working, and after several days mulling over the case, that included a delay because of a sick juror, a decision: guilty of second degree murder.

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