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In Le Mars homicide trial, spouse testifies she watcher her husband, Tom Knapp, shoot her son | Crime & Courts

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LE MARS, Iowa — Darlene Knapp knew her husband was mad when he returned inside their dwelling.

Tom Knapp had observed a birdbath knocked over of their yard that morning and went exterior to set it again up. Darlene Knapp mentioned raccoons most likely knocked it over, however she knew Tom probably would blame her son, Kevin Juzek, who lived of their basement.

“We was most likely blaming each of us,” Darlene Knapp mentioned, testifying that her husband did not like having Juzek of their dwelling, however there had by no means been any bodily confrontations between them. “I suppose he simply actually by no means preferred Kevin in anyway.”

Minutes later, Juzek was lifeless on the lounge ground, shot twice by Tom Knapp after Juzek had stepped in to cease him from assaulting Darlene.

Knapp, 84, has pleaded not responsible in Plymouth County District Court of first-degree homicide and willful damage for the May 11, 2020, capturing of Juzek, 51, who was his stepson. Knapp is also charged with willful damage and home assault for assaulting Darlene previous to the capturing. If discovered responsible of first-degree homicide, Knapp would face a compulsory sentence of life in jail with out parole.

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Knapp is accused of capturing Juzek with a 20-gauge shotgun by means of his bed room door, putting him within the stomach, then capturing him a second time from point-blank vary within the chest in the lounge ground.

Darlene Knapp testified that her husband punched her not less than twice within the face when she introduced some recent water to him. Inside his bed room, Tom knocked her down, then pulled her up onto the mattress by her hair. He then struck her with a wood train stick just like a broomstick not less than twice, one of many blows breaking fingers in Darlene’s left hand as she tried to guard herself.

Juzek got here to the door, Darlene mentioned, and he or she ducked beneath Tom to depart the bed room. She mentioned Juzek held the door shut so she might name 911. She did not hear the primary shot.

“Kevin got here out and instructed me Tom shot him within the abdomen,” she mentioned.

Juzek fell to the ground and was sitting up.

“Then Tom got here out and he form of kicked Kevin within the foot and mentioned ‘you imply you are not lifeless but?’ after which he shot him within the chest,” Darlene mentioned. “Kevin was completely petrified. When (Tom) pointed the gun at him, (Kevin) mentioned ‘oh, no,’ and people had been Kevin’s final phrases.

“I’ll always remember it. It’s in my coronary heart.”

Darlene Knapp mentioned Tom pursued her as she left the home, holding the gun in opposition to her.

“I used to be scared I used to be going to get shot within the again,” she mentioned.

Able to flee, Darlene known as 911 a second time from exterior, and officers quickly arrived whereas Tom Knapp remained inside the home.

Knapp’s attorneys say his actions had been justified and he shot Juzek in self-defense.

In an audio recording of Knapp’s interview with investigators performed Thursday for the jury, Knapp mentioned Darlene had threatened her with the stick, and he took it from her and hit her. He additionally instructed deputies Juzek was screaming at him from exterior his bed room.

Plymouth County Sheriff Mike Van Otterloo, who has since retired, responded to the capturing and spoke with Tom Knapp, who was seated within the again seat of a patrol automotive. After Van Otterloo suggested him of his proper to stay silent, he requested Knapp why he shot his stepson.

“Because he was attacking me,” Knapp mentioned in a video recording of the dialog performed for jurors. “He was jerking on the door. He had a wooden factor, he was going to hit me with it.”

On Thursday, jurors heard different recordings of Knapp telling investigators that Juzek purposely irritated him, and even performed some form of digital gadget that saved Knapp awake at night time.

Darlene Knapp testified she by no means heard the noise her husband — the 2 are actually divorced — complained about.

At the conclusion of her testimony, Plymouth County Attorney Darin Raymond rested his case after a day and a half of witness testimony and proof.

After talking briefly with Knapp in personal, public defender Wendy Samuelson then rested the protection case with out calling Knapp or another witnesses to testify.

The trial will resume with the attorneys’ closing arguments on Tuesday morning earlier than the case is submitted to the jury.

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2022-09-10 15:15:00

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