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Cabdriver murder suspect Curtis Jones questioned about Iowa City bail bondsman homicide

Not clear if Jones is considered a suspect in Jonathan Wieseler's death

Curtis Jones responds to a question from Judge Chad Kepros regarding his motion for hybrid or self-representation in a hearing at Johnson County District Court in Iowa City on Friday, Sept. 22, 2017. Jones, charged with killing Iowa City cabdriver Ricky Lillie in June, withdrew his motion to represent himself at trial, and Judge Kepros denied his motion for hybrid representation. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — A man facing charges of murdering an Iowa City cabdriver was questioned by police about the killing two months earlier of a bail bondsman, according to court records released Monday.

Curtis Jones, 41, is charged with first-degree murder in the June 27 death of cabbie Ricky Lillie, 46. Records show investigators also interviewed him about the killing of Jonathan Wieseler, 34, who was found shot to death April 23 at Lederman Bail Bonds in Iowa City, where he worked.

Jones has not been arrested in connection with Wieseler’s death, and police said Monday they have not “officially” named Jones a suspect in that investigation.

“We are not at a point in the investigation to officially list Jones as a suspect in the Wieseler homicide,” said Iowa City Police Sgt. Scott Gaarde.

Police have said Jones entered Lillie’s cab about 11 p.m. June 27 and the two men drove non-stop to the 500 block of Ernest Street on the south side of Iowa City. Authorities said Jones then shot Lillie in the head. He faces charges of first-degree murder and first-degree robbery.

Iowa City police previously have said a robbery near Lederman Bail Bonds — but a day after the killing — could be connected to Wieseler’s death.

The Wieseler case is mentioned in a footnote of a court motion filed this week by Quint Meyerdirk, Jones’ attorney in the Lillie case.

“The defendant was also questioned ... about several other robberies in the Iowa City area, as well as the death of Jonathan Wieseler,” the footnote reads.

A motion for a change of venue, also filed this week by Meyerdirk, cites a news story that mentions the Wieseler homicide.

“Another locally reported story mentioned the Lederman Bail Bonds murder case, which has not resulted as yet in any charges against any individuals,” the motion states.

In the motion to suppress, Meyerdirk argued his client did not receive an adequate Miranda warning upon his June 30 arrest. The arrest was in Mount Pleasant on a second-degree theft charge, but Jones later was questioned about Lillie’s death. The motion states that the Iowa City police officer who read Jones his rights did not properly inform Jones that any statements he made could be used as evidence against him or that he had a right to an attorney during his interrogation.

Meyerdirk also argued Jones invoked his right to an attorney after about 90 minutes of interrogation, yet continued to be questioned. Additionally, Jones told officers he recently took and smoked marijuana wax, but was not tested to determine his “level of intoxication.”

In the motion for a change of venue, Meyerdirk cites “pervasive media coverage and publicity surrounding this case” of the cabdriver’s killing in seeking the trial being moved out of Johnson County.

“During the time period from July 2017 to September 2017, more than 20 stories covering the matter have appeared in print or online,” the motion states. “Some of these stories were inflammatory in tone.”

No ruling has been made with respect to Meyerdirk’s two motions, and the Johnson County Attorney’s Office has not yet filed a response.

First-degree murder is a Class A felony punishable by an automatic life sentence. First-degree robbery is a Class B felony punishable by up to 25 years in prison. Jones has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to go to trial Oct. 16.

l Comments: (319) 398-8238; lee.hermiston@thegazette.com