116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — A sister of James “Jim Bob” Booher told two defendants Wednesday they were cowards for helping kill her brother and then concealing he was fatally shot and his body was burned more than seven years ago.
Susie Reynolds told Danielle Busch, 31, and William L. Yancey, 45, both of Cedar Rapids, in victim impact statements read during their sentencings, to remember whom they killed May 31, 2014. He was a brother, son and a father who was loved “by so many people. Someone that worked hard each and every day of his life as a carpenter. He was the best in town.”
Reynolds said Busch, as a mother herself, should have thought about Booher’s mother and what she was going through when he went missing that day.
“What kind of values have you shown to your own son?” Reynolds asked. “To take part in killing an innocent man that did nothing to you. To take part in dismantling a person’s body to burn and to get rid of evidence.”
Busch -- who pleaded guilty last year to one count each of conspiracy to commit robbery affecting interstate commerce and using, carrying and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence resulting in murder -- was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Yancey, who pleaded in May to the same charges but in a separate hearing, was sentenced to more than 33 years in prison.
During plea hearings, both admitted to agreeing with others to rob Booher, 51, of Marion, of methamphetamine and money on May 31, 2014.
Booher went missing that day after going to an Ely farmhouse to make a drug deal with Busch, Yancey and Matthew Robbins, 48, of Ely, who also was convicted in May.
Busch admitted that a co-conspirator used or carried a firearm during the robbery. She also admitted to participating in the crime.
Yancey admitted to knowing that a firearm was going to be used or carried during the crime, that he had advance notice of the crime and the choice to walk away. He also admitted the firearm was discharged and resulted in the fatal shooting of Booher.
U.S. District Judge Leonard Strand, who sentenced both defendants Wednesday, also ran Yancey’s 33-year sentence consecutively to his 15 years, which he already is serving for conspiracy to manufacture meth in 2016.
In other impact statements, submitted to the court in both sentencings, Laurie Stribling, Booher’s sister, said there were no words for all the different emotions each of their family members have felt from when he first went missing to the day they found out he was murdered.
Her mother was devastated when her brother went missing and knew her "baby boy" was gone — she “felt it in her gut” that he was dead.
“All I could do is cry with her and told her to have faith, but she knew,” Stribling said. “A mother always know when her child is hurt or something isn’t right and she was right from that very night. I want to ask Matt Robbins, Billy Yancey and Danielle Busch, why? Why my brother?”
Kris Taylor, Booher’s ex-wife, said she didn’t know if there was an appropriate word for someone who killed her “best friend” and father of her children. This crime “changed their lives forever.”
“They will never be the same,” Taylor said. “The images they see every time they close their eyes. The truths and rumors they have had to hear over the years about what you did to their dad. It’s so sick and evil.”
A federal jury found Robbins guilty of robbery affecting interstate commerce, conspiracy to commit robbery affecting interstate commerce and using, carrying and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence resulting in murder.
He already is serving prison time for a 2015 gun conviction and faces a mandatory 10 years and a possibly of up to life in federal prison.
According to testimony in Robbins’ trial, more than one witness said Robbins fatally shot Booher with a sawed-off shotgun and burned his body in a pit at the Ely farmhouse on Nederhiser Road that Robbins was renting.
Busch, former girlfriend of Robbins and Yancey, testified she lured Booher to the farmhouse. Yancey made her offer Booher sex in exchange for meth.
Witnesses testified Robbins killed Booher because he was angry that Booher repeatedly sold him meth mixed with bath salts, reducing its purity and potency.
Most of the prosecution’s case was circumstantial, but there was some physical evidence — human bone fragments found in the burn pit and Booher’s DNA found in Robbins’ house.
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