Year in Review: High profile cases

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KIMT News 3- The long arm of the law touched many people in 2016 for crimes both old and new.

On February 4, Edgar Concepcion Jr. of Charles City was resentenced for the murder and rape of his 3-year-old cousin. It took a jury just a few minutes in 2010 to give him life in prison without the chance of parole, but that sentence was thrown out when the U. S. Supreme Court ruled it was “cruel and unusual punishment” since Concepcion committed the crimes when he was 14.

His second time around, Concepcion received life with the possibility of parole. In September, however, he was granted a new trial after claiming ineffective counsel and the possibility of new evidence. That trial is scheduled for October, 2017.

A man tried to murder his ex-wife on March 7 in Rochester, then shot himself to death. But though Zahra Zamiri took several bullets to the chest and upper body, she survived and just a few months later took the oath to become an American citizen. Zamiri had words of thanks for the support of her community.

Zahra Zamiri – “Everybody, I just want to say very much what happened to me. My husband shot me. I want to say to the city, thank you so much, to the police department and the hospital, St. Mary’s.”

On May 6, Noah Crooks appeared in Mitchell County District Court to learn his fate. He had shot his mother 22 times and killed her in 2013 but he was too young to be sentenced to prison. Three years later he finally found out that he’ll spend a half-century behind bars, though with the possibility of early release with good behavior.

Noah Crooks – “I’ve regretted what I did every day since it happened. Not only because I took my mom’s life but because I hurt the people I love as well as myself.”

A 15-year-old boy was stabbed to death on July 1 in Rochester, but no charges were brought against the boy who stabbed him. Olmsted County Attorney Mark Ostrem says the investigation found that Jose Negrete actually stabbed the boy first during an attempted robbery, before the victim took the knife and fought back.

Mark Ostrem, Olmsted County Attorney – “A mutual confrontation, there was a fight going on and the level of force that he used in defending himself was similar to the use of force that was used against him.”

A gunshot and a car crash in Rochester on August 10 led to a charge of 2nd degree unintentional murder against Abdulkadir Mohamed. Authorities say he was riding in a car with Abdullahi Omar Sheikh and as Mohamed was handling a gun, it fired and struck Sheikh in the torso. He died despite the car being just a block away from the emergency room.
Though he’s facing charges, investigators say the two men were friends and they don’t believe Mohamed intended to kill him.

On May 25, an automobile struck and killed 5-year-old Lukas Wharton in Kalmar Township. In August, charges were finally filed against the man behind the wheel, Myles Keller of Mantorville.

Mark Ostrem, Olmsted County Attorney – “If he did not consume any alcohol and if he’d driven a different way home, I think there would have been a difference. These kids were out there playing, just having a great time. It’s two brothers having a great time and what was a real fun afternoon for ‘em turned into a horrible tragedy.”

A North Iowa case that seemed more like something you’d see on television ended in August with Mark Retterath being found guilty of attempted murder, solicitation to commit murder and 3rd degree sexual abuse. The prosecution said Retterath planned to poison his abuse victim with a method that was seen on the show “Breaking Bad” by manufacturing his own lethal ricin.

Denise Timmons, prosector – “You don’t deny that you printed off the how-to-extract-ricin documents in this folder, correct?”
Mark Retterath – “No, yes.”

In October, Retterath was sentenced to 35 years in prison.

The Freeborn County Sheriff’s office got a 911 call on August 23 about shots being fired at Myre-Big Island State Park. They arrived to find Spencer Brown of rural Freeborn County dead from two gunshots to the head. It turned out the 911 call came from David Easter, the man who allegedly admitted to shooting Brown.

Kurt Freitag, Freeborn County Sheriff – “He made a claim that the shooting was out of self-defense. When the deputies came to the scene, he told use that he left the scene and came to the front gate fo the state park to wait for us.”

A charge of 2nd degree murder was filed against Easter.

Another first degree murder trial ended in another guilty verdict in August as Ronald Rand was convicted of the shotgun killing of Michelle Key in December, 2015, at Rand’s Hampton home. A state medical examiner explained to the jury what the last moments of Key’s life were like.

Coleman McAlilister, prosector – “How long would you estimate she would have been live after receiving this wound?”

Dennis Klein, state medical examiner – “I think it could vary, but I think it would take several minutes to die.”

The Mitchell County kidnapping trial of Nicholas Lenz in October had an explosive ending as the defendant lost control of himself when he heard his guilty verdict.
Nicholas Lenz – (listening to verdict) “I hope you’re *bleep* happy! I’m gonna spend the rest of my *bleep* life in prison because of this *bleep*! Are you serious?”

Lenz was sentenced to life in prison without the change of parole.
An officer-involved shooting claimed the life of a rural Fillmore County man on October 23. Sheriff’s deputies went to the home of Kristofer Youngquist because he was a suspect in an assault. It turned into a standoff and when Youngquist finally emerged and pointed a rifle at officers, he was shot and killed by a Rochester police sergeant.
The rifle turned out to be a pellet gun.

Mason City was shocked by a double murder in November and that alarm only grew after another killing in December.

Peter Veal was charged with two counts of 1st degree murder for the shootings of Melinda Kavars and Caleb Christiansen on November 17. KIMT spoke to a man who said he was there and called 911.

Witness – “I would have never been there; I would have never been there if I knew that was going to happen, never in my life. Now, I have to live with myself. That’s not good.”

Veal is also facing a charge of attempted murder for trying to kill the witness.
A charge of 1st degree murder was also filed against Larry Whaley after the December 2 shooting that ended the life of 19-year-old Samantha Teeter. A few days later, her friends gathered to remember her life, lighting candles and releasing balloons outside the home where she was shot.

Steve Whitney, Samantha’s uncle – “To be here for Sammi for what happened. What really happened was wrong and it shouldn’t have happened.”

Mason City Police Chief Jeff Brinkley told his citizens that they need to be proactive.
“If you know someone who’s dealing drugs, know someone who has a gun that’s not supposed to, you have information on human trafficking, information on counterfeiters, any kind of larger criminal element where there are kinds of problems that tend to flow out of them…if you’re not doing anything about it, you’re part of the problem”

And as 2016 wound down, a Wisconsin man finally had to appear Olmsted County District Court for allegedly killing a woman in 2013. Steven Zelich is accused of murdering Laura Simonson at a Rochester motel, then stuffing her body in a suitcase. Zelich has already been convicted of a similar murder in Wisconsin and received a 35 year prison sentence. He entered not guilty pleas for Simonson’s death on December 22.

From remembering those we lost to reliving the impacts of flood and fire to reflecting on the high price of accident and violence, KIMT’s Year-in Review is almost complete.

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