STATE NEWS: Prosecutor clears officers in fatal Ottumwa gunbattle

OTTUMWA (AP) — A prosecutor has cleared officers involved in a fatal Ottumwa gunbattle.

A Fairfield man was killed and two Ottumwa men were charged with attempted murder and other crimes after the shootout following an armed robbery Aug. 3.

Wapello County Attorney Gary Oldenburger said in a news release Saturday that the officers' actions were "absolutely necessary to eliminate the threat the subjects posed to them, their fellow officers, students and staff in the school, and residents in the surrounding neighborhood."

Court documents say the three men forced their way into an Ottumwa home and stole items. A man outside home was shot and then hospitalized.

The three armed men fled and were intercepted by Ottumwa officers near Liberty Elementary School, where the shootout occurred. No officer was injured.

Community petitions to save local park in northwest Iowa

SERGEANT BLUFF (AP) — Residents in northwest Iowa have banded together to save their local park.

Jon Anderson told the Sioux City Journal that he and his neighbors recently petitioned to save the Oak Hills park in Sergeant Bluff. The pocket park is small and consists of basketball courts and playground equipment, but it's still used by children in the neighborhood, Anderson said.

"When we heard the city was considering taking the basketball hoops down, we had to spring into action," he said.

Anderson and his neighbors were able to secure 118 signatures in a petition to save the park.

The move led to the City Council deciding not to get rid of the basketball hoops and agreeing to help write a grant for new playground equipment.

"There are other, newer parks in Sergeant Bluff," Brandy Cook, a longtime resident in the neighborhood. "But this park was our park."

Anderson believes showing the City Council that residents were passionate about bettering the neighborhood is what made the difference.

"It wasn't a handful of people making a decision," he said. "Instead, this was an entire neighborhood wanting to preserve something that was important to everybody."

Anderson has planned a community day with food and music to clean up the park Aug. 19.

Man convicted of 1996 slaying dies at Iowa prison facility

CORALVILLE (AP) — Authorities say a man convicted in a 1996 northeast Iowa slaying has died in a state prison facility.

The Iowa Corrections Department said Monday that Robert Richey died of natural causes at 9:40 a.m. Sunday at the Iowa Medical and Classification Center in Coralville. He was 74.

Richey had been housed there because of chronic illness.

He was sentenced to life in prison after his conviction for the shotgun killing of a Garner city councilman, Don Larkin Jr. Authorities say Larkin had been dating Richey's former wife.

Man facing murder charge says he was protecting himself

DES MOINES (AP) — A man charged with murder says his actions in an Urbandale bar fight are protected by Iowa's "stand your ground" law.

The Des Moines Register reports that a judge has set a hearing for Aug. 20 to consider the motion filed for 49-year-old Rodney Henricksen. He's pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in the Jan. 18 death of Joshua Sadlon, of Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

The motion says Henricksen was defending himself from an intoxicated and aggressive Sadlon. Henricksen told three people at the bar that Sadlon had threatened his life. The law says a person doesn't have to retreat before using deadly force if he or she reasonably thinks his or her life is being threatened.

The motion says Henricksen was entitled to use reasonable force to preemptively strike at Sadlon to avoid injury to himself.

Northeast Iowa attorney pleads not guilty to theft charge

CRESCO (AP) — A northeast Iowa attorney accused of looting a woman's estate has pleaded not guilty.

Howard County District Court records say 56-year Todd Kowalke entered a written plea Friday to a theft charge. A trial date hasn't been set.

The criminal complaint filed against him says he took more than $35,000 from the estate of a woman who died in 2009 and used it for gambling and for business and personal expenses. The complaint also says he's promised to repay all the money.