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Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — A Cedar Rapids man who faced a voluntary manslaughter charge for fatally shooting another man during a fight is free after the charge was dropped by the Linn County Attorney’s Office.
Assistant Linn County Attorney Molly Edwards, in a motion filed earlier this month, asked a judge to dismiss the charge against James Siegel, 42, based on Iowa’s “stand your ground” law, and said there is insufficient evidence to prove the manslaughter charge.
Siegel initially was charged with first-degree murder. But a few weeks later, it was amended to voluntary manslaughter for the fatal shooting of Ty John Casey, 39, on May 13 in northeast Cedar Rapids. At that time, additional investigation revealed a history between the two men, and the crime scene and autopsy supported the lesser charge, according to the amended complaint.
Siegel’s actions resulted from a “sudden, violent and irresistible passion” as a result of serious provocation — elements of voluntary manslaughter — by Casey, the amended complaint stated. Linn County Attorney Nick Maybanks at that time was asked about the history between Siegel and Casey, but he said he couldn’t provide details.
On Tuesday, Maybanks told The Gazette that once the investigation was completed, he and Edwards, along with Cedar Rapids Police investigators, evaluated the case and agreed there wasn’t the necessary evidence to prove voluntary manslaughter “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
“The investigation revealed that the Stand Your Ground law was the determining factor,” Maybanks said. “Our office strives to act with the utmost integrity, and one of the core principles of prosecutors is to only pursue cases for which we have the evidence to convict.”
The Iowa stand your ground law, regarding the justifiable use of deadly force, allows for a presumption that deadly force is reasonable when another person “enters their dwelling unlawfully if a person believes they are in danger of injury,” Maybanks said. “That is not a presumption we could overcome in this case based on the investigation of the crime scene, statements and the history between the parties.”
Casey’s family was advised of the decision to dismiss the charge before the motion was filed and approved by the court. “Out of respect for the family, we have no further comment at this time,” Maybanks said.
The stand your ground law was amended in 2017 to require that the person using deadly force against another should notify or have another person notify law enforcement about the incident within a reasonable period of time.
According to complaint, Siegel did call 911 at 9 p.m. May 13 to report a shooting at his home, 3906 Northwood Dr. NE. He told dispatchers he shot Casey.
Officers found Casey with a gunshot wound and he died at the scene.
There was another person, not identified in the complaint, in the home at the time who was taken, along with Siegel, to the police department for questioning, according to the complaint.
Siegel told investigators Casey threw a glancing punch at him, and Siegel responded by picking up a Ruger handgun from a nightstand and firing a shot that hit Casey in the upper chest area, the complaint stated.
Casey threw another punch at Siegel and missed, then Siegel shot a second time at Casey, at point blank range, and then fired one more time, hitting Casey in the back, according to the complaint.
Siegel was a newsroom clerk for The Gazette for nearly seven years, leaving the company in early 2007.
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