Firearms evidence points to Amanda Weldon's account in murder trial

Blairstown man charged with first-degree murder in woman's death

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MARENGO — Fingerprints and palm prints found on the shotgun used in the slaying of Amy Gephart belonged to defendant Tonch Weldon’s wife, Amanda, a criminalist testified Friday, but they were consistent with someone picking up a weapon rather than firing it.

Dennis Kern of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation said there were other prints on the 20-gauge shotgun, but only Amanda Weldon’s were in good enough shape to use for identification. He said they were near the pump of the gun, not close to the trigger.

Amanda Weldon testified Wednesday that she saw her husband shoot Gephart and then himself. After struggling with Tonch Weldon over the gun, she said, she grabbed it and tossed it away from him.

Tonch Weldon, 39, of Blairstown, charged with first-degree murder, is accused of shooting Gephart, 35, on June 7, 2009. Gephart died from one shot to the chest and Tonch Weldon suffered serious injuries to his face and jaw area.

Amanda Weldon testified that the three of them shared a sexual relationship but that she and Gephart fell in love and wanted to leave Tonch Weldon.

The prosecution rested its case Friday, and the defense brought to the stand witnesses who testified about Tonch Weldon’s character.

Anna Sparrow Evans, 31, a massage therapist from Iowa City, testified that she’d been involved in a sexual threesome with the Weldons when she was 19 years old. Tonch Weldon approached her about an experiment, she said, which lasted 10 months to a year.

Evans said they had ground rules to protect the Weldons’ marriage — she had sex with them only together, never separately.

She remained friends with the Weldons after the sexual relationship ended. Tonch Weldon was always there for her, Evans said, and helped plan a benefit for her mother, who had cancer. He was caring, loving and non-violent, she said.

Friend Benjamin Tapken of North English said Tonch Weldon wasn’t easily prompted to anger.

“He was good at turning the other cheek,” Tapken said. “He would use talking instead of violence.”

Tapken said he’d been making rings for Tonch and Amanda Weldon and Gephart before the shooting. They were going to have a commitment ceremony — a symbolic marriage, he said.

Assistant Attorney General Denise Timmins asked Tapken who had asked him to make those rings. Tapken said it was only Tonch Weldon, not his wife or Gephart.

Other testimony covered the timing of events on the day of the shooting. The defense is attempting to prove that it wasn’t premeditated and Tonch Weldon “just snapped.”

The trial will resume at 9 a.m. Tuesday in Iowa County District Court. The jury could start deliberations as early as Wednesday.

Replay the live coverage of Friday's testimony below.

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