The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Local News

January 25, 2013

Court denies murder appeal

DES MOINES — A state appeals court has denied a Clinton man’s appeal to overturn his first-degree murder conviction.

The Iowa Court of Appeals on Thursday affirmed a Clinton County jury’s decision to convict Jason Tate of first-degree murder and possession of a firearm by a felon. Tate was found guilty in October 2011 in the shooting death of Kelsey Stahl.

During the murder trial, Tate admitted on the witness stand that he shot Stahl. Tate’s appeal contended that there was insufficient evidence to support the first-degree murder conviction and the court erred in admitting evidence of prior bad acts.

Also, Tate argued in his appeal, and on the witness stand during the trial, that the shooting was accidental. He said the court should not have admitted certain evidence about Stahl.

His appeal also raised issues regarding ineffective assistance from counsel.

Ineffective assistance

Tate argued the court should not have admitted evidence of prior bad acts, including a verbal altercation and bruising on Stahl in the months leading up to her death.  

The appeals court ruled that since Tate waived any alleged error, the admission of prior bad acts would stand or fall on his ineffective assistance of counsel claim.

Tate’s attorney did not object to Phyllis Pickens’ testimony during the trial regarding a verbal altercation between Tate and Stahl. In his appeal, Tate said this should have been objected to, but the appeals court ruled in favor of the counsel based on the exchange being evidence of an emotionally charged relationship.

Tate also said counsel erred in failing to object to testimony that Stahl changed her behavior when Tate moved in with her. Once again, the appeals court ruled in favor of the counsel, saying the testimony of Stahl’s changed behavior outweighed the danger of unfair prejudice.

Lastly, Tate said his counsel did not object to testimony from three witnesses about bruising on Stahl in the months leading up to her death.

However, the counsel cross-examined the witnesses, eliciting responses from each witness that denied Stahl said Tate caused the bruising. Because of the counsel’s cross-examination, the appeals court again sided with the counsel.

Sufficiency of the evidence

Tate contended the evidence was insufficient to show he acted with malice aforethought, deliberation and premeditation.

The appeals court ruled against Tate, saying the evidence was sufficient to allow a reasonable jury to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that Tate willfully and deliberately shot Stahl with premeditation and malice aforethought.


Text Only
Local News
  • Dutch Days grand marshals Fulton couple honored as grand marshals

    Bob and Trudy Feldt have been dedicated to the city of Fulton for decades. Whether it be Trudy's 27-year commitment to teaching the children of the community at the River Bend School District, Bob's 33-year career with the Fulton-born c

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Fire alarm evacuation at Eagle Heights

    Students of Eagle Heights Elementary School were evacuated Thursday afternoon after staff smelled something being emitted in the first-grade hallway and main office areas.

    According to a press release from the Clinton Community School District, staff noticed the smell at approximately 1:10 p.m. It was then determined the fire department should be notified, and the fire alarm was pulled. The building was evacuated quickly and the Clinton Fire Department responded immediately.

    April 17, 2014

  • JUST IN: McColley found not guilty of sex abuse

    A Clinton County jury today found Russell McColley, 39, not guilty of second-degree sexual abuse.

    McColley was accused of abusing a 3-year-old girl on July 29, 2013. If convicted of the class B felony, he could have faced as much as 25 years in prison.

    April 17, 2014

  • Court denies man's appeal in robbery CLINTON -- The Iowa Court of Appeals has upheld a conviction of a man who robbed a Clinton pawn shop in 2012. Darrell L. Thomas recently appealed his first-degree robbery conviction to the Iowa Court of Appeals. The court released its decision Wednes

    April 17, 2014

  • CCDA will match funds to secure van

    CLINTON -- One local non-profit organization soon will benefit from a donation from the Clinton County Development Association but it's not their typical form of grant giving. During a meeting Wednesday, CCDA members discussed the possibility of matc

    April 17, 2014

  • Jury deliberating in sex abuse case CLINTON -- Jurors were set to return to court this morning to continue deliberating on the trial of a man accused of sexually abusing a 3-year-old girl. The jury deliberated for more than two hours on the Russell McColley case Wednesday afternoon, be

    April 17, 2014

  • City considers upsizing storm sewer capacity CAMANCHE -- Residential development is a key component to the fortitude of Camanche, according to city leaders so they are taking the steps necessary to keep it an appealing location for future investors. To do so, those leaders are looking to up siz

    April 16, 2014

  • Schools will continue sports-sharing agreements CLINTON -- Students attending Camanche, Central DeWitt, Northeast and Prince of Peace schools still will be able to participate in the athletic programs offered in the Clinton School District. At a meeting Monday, Clinton School Board members approve

    April 16, 2014

  • Sex abuse trial continues CLINTON -- Assistant County Attorney Ross Barlow began his case Tuesday against a man charged with sexual abuse of a 3-year-old girl. Russell McColley, 39, is charged with second-degree sexual abuse, a class B felony carrying as much as 25 years in

    April 16, 2014

  • Cattail Slough closed due to high water FULTON, Ill. -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Mississippi River Project announces that Cattail Slough recreation area south of Fulton has been closed due to high water levels. The recreation area will remain closed until it has dried out sufficie

    April 16, 2014

Clinton Herald photos

Browse, buy and submit pictures with our photo site.