Jessica Dayton, 20, of Belle Plaine, convicted in April in the murder of her boss Curtis Bailey, today was sentenced to a mandatory life sentence without parole in Iowa County District Court.
Dayton was convicted of first-degree murder for her part in the brutal beating death last year of Bailey, 33, of Marengo. Dayton, along with Bailey’s former live-in girlfriend Denise Frei, 44, of Marengo, and Frei’s son Jacob Hilgendorf, 19, of Belle Plaine, had a plan to get Bailey drunk and kill him.
“In my life I never imagined I would be telling any of my children that their father was murdered,” Michelle Geary, Bailey’s ex-wife, said in a victim’s impact statement read by B.J. Franklin, director of Horizons Survivors Network.
“It’s very hard to put into words how Curt’s death has affected our lives. We have had to avoid certain places of business here in our town of 2,500 people because of questions and the press.”
Geary said it’s still difficult for her and Alex. She has tried to console and protect him during this time but it has been hard because she is also grieving.
“I believe justice has been served today,” Geary said. “Jessica was found guilty of Curt’s murder and I believe it is appropriate for her to be sentenced to the rest of her life in prison.”
Geary and Bailey’s son Alex, 15, also wrote a statement, which was read by Franklin.
“This entire situation messed me up,” Alex said. “I don’t mean physically but mentally. My trust level went way down. I went into shock, and I think I still might be in a little bit of shock.”
Alex said things seemed to be getting back to normal and then the trial started and “everything came right back at me again.” He started waking up in the middle of the night thinking.
“It helped a lot to know she is going away for the rest of her life for the murder of my father it can’t give me my dad back or answer many of the questions I have,” Alex said.
Sixth Judicial District Judge Denver Dillard sentenced Dayton to life in prison, which is the mandatory sentence for first-degree murder. She is also ordered to pay $150,000 to Bailey’s estate and $7, 932 to the crime victim’s assistance program.
Dayton said during the hearing that this was a tragedy because she has lost a friend, mentor and loved one.
“No one should have to go through this,” Dayton said with a shaky voice as she started crying. “I didn’t do this. God knows the truth and I wished everyone else could know the truth. I’m going to spend the rest of my life in prison for something I didn’t do.”
Frei and Hilgendorf will stand trial for first-degree murder in January.