“He’s not a bad man, he’s a monster.”
Several years from now, Lucinda Jamieson-Herman said, she may visit Dameon Tucker in prison and ask him why. But this afternoon, the grieving mother of Angel Herman and grandmother of Cyrus Shoup said she would be taking a trip to the cemetery before leaving town to spend Thanksgiving Day with family.
In a courtroom crowded to standing room only today, the family members and friends of Herman and Cyrus cheered, cried and embraced as Tucker was convicted as charged on two counts of first-degree murder and a count of first-degree arson for the young Clinton mother and son’s December deaths.
Tucker was then ordered to serve two consecutive life prison terms after requesting immediate sentencing this afternoon.
“I love my kids, and I can’t imagine what my daughter and my grandson were feeling that night or going through, my daughter especially,” Jamieson-Herman said haltingly in an interview after court proceedings, her voice often broken by sobs. “I know she fought like hell ... but then, you know, I think of this little boy, this innocent little boy.”
A five-man, seven-woman jury spent about nine hours deliberating Tuesday and today before deciding Tucker’s guilt. They convicted the 23-year-old Clinton man of violently beating Herman to death late Dec. 15 in a possibly sexually motivated attack, breaking her jaw and slashing her throat before dousing her body with alcohol and starting a fire in her Bluff Apartments residence. Two-year-old Cyrus died of smoke inhalation as he lay on the apartment’s couch, where Herman had left him sleeping.
Tucker showed little reaction to the jury’s verdict today aside from shaking his head slightly, his face unreadable as he sat rigidly by his attorney.
Before Judge David Sivright handed down Tucker’s sentence, Jamieson-Herman stood before the court with her two younger daughters and faced the man who took her firstborn child and oldest grandson from her almost a year ago.
“Smirk all you want ... because you’ll never see the light of day again,” she said, ending her statement with, “I hope you rot in hell.”
Tucker’s court-appointed attorney, Bruce Ingham, made a motion for a new trial on the grounds of insufficient evidence against Tucker before the man was sentenced, but Sivright denied the request.
Although life in prison is the mandatory sentence for first-degree murder in Iowa, Sivright accepted a recommendation from Clinton County Attorney Mike Wolf to order that Tucker’s two life terms be served consecutively. The arson sentence was included under the term for the murder charge against Cyrus.
“I know that’s largely symbolic ... but it feels like the right thing to do,” the judge said from the bench, also ordering Tucker to pay two $150,000 sums to the families of the victims.
Wolf thanked the jury for sensitively handling the sometimes graphic evidence presented to them since the trial’s start last week. He also praised the police and investigative work done on the case.
“This verdict reflects and supports our system of justice,” the county’s lead prosecutor told the court.
Before Jamieson-Herman spoke, Wolf read statements to the court from Michael and Alexandria Shoup, Cyrus’ father and stepmother. Both attended proceedings this afternoon.
“My heart is empty without my boy Cyrus,” Michael’s statement reads. “I wake up from time to time in the middle of the sweating and crying, because I was dreaming of Cyrus, trying to find a way to get to him in the fire, always getting close. But I never reach him.”
Both Michael and Alexandria said they will always struggle to explain Cyrus’ death to his younger brother Keegan, born in the spring of 2009. Michael said after today’s proceedings the family will celebrate what would have been Cyrus’ third birthday at the cemetery Saturday.
Alexandria said the day before the fire “was the first and only time Cyrus ever said my name.” She last saw him the afternoon of Dec. 15, when she and Michael dropped the toddler off at Herman’s apartment and Cyrus waved to her over Michael’s shoulder as he was carried inside.
“It’s never going to get better,” her statement reads. “And there will always be a warm spot in my heart for the sweet little boy I called my own.”
Pick up Thursday's Clinton Herald for more photos from today's verdict announcement.
Judge orders two consecutive life sentences
“He’s not a bad man, he’s a monster.”
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