Public Safety

Cedar Rapids man to serve 19 years for stabbing his friend, attempting to run him over with vehicle, last summer

Ronald Gonterman
Ronald Gonterman

IOWA CITY — A Cedar Rapids man, known to friends as “Santa Claus,” was sentenced to 19 years in prison for stabbing his “drinking buddy” last June after threatening to shoot him near Babcock’s Landing in the Hawkeye Wildlife Management Area.   

Ronald Gonterman, 67, originally charged with attempted murder, pleaded guilty Monday in Johnson County District Court to willful injury causing serious injury and going armed with intent, both felonies, and assault with a dangerous weapon and first-degree harassment, both aggravated misdemeanors.

6th Judicial District Judge Chad Kepros ruled the two felony sentences of 15 years and two years for each misdemeanor to run consecutively for a total of 19 years.

Prosecutors asked the court to move up the plea hearing, previously set March 23, to Monday because of Gonterman’s medical condition, which the jail couldn’t accommodate, according to court records. There were no details on his condition in the record.

Gonterman, during the hearing, admitted to stabbing Michael A. White, 49, of Cedar Rapids, which punctured his lung, on June 29. He also admitted to being armed with a 9 mm handgun and attempting to run him over with a vehicle.

Court records show White called 911 that day and told Johnson County dispatchers he had been stabbed multiple times. White, during the 911 call, said he didn’t know where he was, but law enforcement, using mapping software, located him on Swan Lake Road, about one-half mile east of Greencastle Avenue. The area is commonly referred to as Babcock’s Landing in the wildlife area.

Authorities said White’s shirt and pants were soaked in blood, and he had four puncture wounds in his back near his spinal column. He was taken to University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, according to a search warrant affidavit.

White, at the hospital, told authorities he and Gonterman, who was nicknamed “Santa Claus” because of his full white beard, were “friends and drinking buddies,” according to the search warrant.

The day of the incident, Gonterman asked White to go with him for a beer, the search warrant shows. After Gonterman brought one can of beer, he headed south on Interstate 380, exiting the highway at some point and driving to an isolated area.

When Gonterman parked, White said he pulled out a small black semi-automatic pistol and told him to get out of the truck, according to search warrant. Gonterman pointed the gun out the window and fired two shots. He then threatened White by saying, “You think I won’t shoot you,” and struck him twice in the head with the gun.

Gonterman told White again to get out of the truck and throw away his phone but White refused, and as he was leaning forward to tuck his phone into his sock he felt pressure on his back, according to court documents. When White realized he was hurt, he got out of the truck and tried to call 911.

White said Gonterman then backed up the truck and drove forward, trying to run him down. White moved off the road, and Gonterman fired three or four shots at him, though no bullets struck him.

Gonterman drove away before police arrived and was later arrested, the search warrant shows.

l Comments: (319) 398-8318; trish.mehaffey@thegazette.com

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