116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — A Chicago man accused of robbing a Coggon gas station — and pumping 10 rounds into a Linn County deputy, who survived — won’t have his trial moved to a new location outside the county as his lawyers asked, a judge has ruled.
Stanley L. Donahue, 36, is charged with attempted murder of a peace officer, two counts of first-degree robbery, two counts of false imprisonment, willful injury, attempt to elude, disarming a peace officer, trafficking in stolen weapons and possession of a firearm as a felon.
He is accused of robbing the Casey’s General Store at 5110 Highway 13 on June 22 — forcing two clerks in a cooler, stealing cash, cigarette cartons and personal belongings, according to a criminal complaint, and then firing at Deputy William Halverson, 38, as the deputy responded to an alarm.
The seven-year employee of the Sheriff’s Office was taken to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. He was wearing a protective vest, but was badly injured.
On Dec. 10, 6th Judicial District Judge Christopher Bruns heard from sides in the argument to have the trial moved.
“The extent to which potential jurors have been exposed to this publicity is not yet known,” Bruns said in his ruling, which was dated Friday. “Defendant’s arguments assume that the publicity regarding this case has reached a huge number of citizens in Linn County. Defendant has also assumed that any social media posts have reached a huge number of citizens. Based on experience with prior cases that have received extensive media coverage, the court anticipates that a majority of potential jurors in Linn County will either have heard nothing about this case because they do not closely follow the news or will remember nothing about what they may have heard.”
However, Bruns noted at the trial gets underway, he will allow the defense to try again if necessary.
“If jury selection in this case establishes a substantial likelihood that a fair and impartial jury cannot be empaneled, the court will allow Defendant to renew the motion and a change of venue can be ordered to ensure that a fair and impartial trial will be preserved,” he ruled. “The court will require the use of a jury questionnaire to aid in assessing whether this may need to be done.”
The judge also denied a request from the defense to split off a charge against Donahue. At the Dec. 10 hearing, Peter Stiefel, one of Donahue’s defense lawyers, argued that Donahue would be prejudiced if a jury heard he already had a felony conviction.
One of the current charges against him is possession of a firearm by a felon. Stiefel asked Bruns to sever that count from the others, and have a separate trial to avoid prejudice.
Bruns said he would allow the charge but limit what can be said about it. “In the present case, the court can and will limit the State to either a stipulation or simple proof of a prior felony conviction. The court will not allow any evidence as to the nature of any prior felony, the number of any prior felonies, or any other details regarding those crimes unless the Defendant testifies and that evidence meets the requirements for admission for other purposes related to the Defendant’s testimony.”
If convicted of all 10 charges, Donahue faces up to 112 years in prison with a mandatory 65 years to serve before being eligible for parole. Donahue remains in jail under a $2.5 million bail.