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Jurors hear 9-year-old's call for help: 'My mom stabbed my dad'

Hillary Hunziker charged with killing her former husband

Division of Criminal Investigation Agent Matthew Schalk on Thursday shows jurors a fixed-blade knife officers found on H
Division of Criminal Investigation Agent Matthew Schalk on Thursday shows jurors a fixed-blade knife officers found on Hillary Hunziker after her ex-husband was stabbed to death in Independence. Schalk took the stand in her murder trial in Buchanan County District Court. (Jeff Reinitz/ Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier)
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INDEPENDENCE — Hours before Hillary Hunziker slipped into her ex-husband’s home and stabbed him to death in November 2017, testimony showed Thursday, her mother told her she should check herself into a hospital.

And six months before the slaying, Hillary Hunziker had been hospitalized when she talked about ending her life.

“She said she wanted to go to a river and drown herself so she could be a spirit and look after” her son, Brenda Milnes, her mother, testified about the earlier hospitalization as the first-degree murder trial continued in Buchanan County District Court.

Assistant Iowa Attorney General Susan Krisko told jurors Hillary Hunziker plotted to kill her ex, 39-year-old Jason Hunziker — buying two knives at Walmart, wearing her “sneaky shoes” and avoiding the squeaky floorboards as she entered his Independence home before dawn Nov. 6, 2017.

After the stabbing, authorities said, she snatched their 9-year-old son, who had been the subject of a custody battle, and fled to Robins.

The defense has indicated it plans to argue she was insane or suffering from diminished responsibility at the time.

The day before the slaying, Milnes, Hillary Hunziker and the boy went to Minnesota to celebrate the baptism of a relative, according to Milnes’ account.

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On the way back, they dropped off the son at the ex’s home and Milnes headed for the Independence mobile home park where Hillary Hunziker lived to drop her off.

During the ride, Hillary told her mother that if anything happened to her and her ex, Milnes should take their son to family in Minnesota.

Milnes said she thought that was odd because the two were divorced. She said she was worried Hillary was going to hurt herself and told her to check herself in to a Waterloo hospital.

But Hillary declined.

Hours later, Hillary phoned Milnes at her Robins home, telling her she had the boy and was coming over and would come crashing in if necessary. Milnes called police, who showed up at her Robins home just as Hillary arrived.

Robins police Officer Patrick Kremer approached the two.

“She told me she was dressed up for Halloween,” Kremer said. “She looked like she was from a low-level horror movie. Her face was covered in blood, and her hair was also covered in blood.”

When the officer asked her name, Hillary Hunziker said that her ex was a child molester.

“Then she responded ‘I killed him,’” he said.

Milnes said her daughter suffered from depression from a young age and had been hospitalized a number of times.

Prosecutors said Hillary had made up the allegations that Jason Hunziker had abused her and their son.

The 9-year-old had denied any abuse during an interview at a child protection center, according to testimony at trial.

During testimony Thursday, jurors listened to a 911 phone call placed by the boy.

“My mom stabbed my dad,” he said.

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The state also played a second 911 call, this one from Jason following the attack. It contained some of his last words.

“I’ve been stabbed,” he told the operator. “Hurry, I’m bleeding to death.” He went on to give his address and tell the dispatcher the assailant took his child.

The trial continues Friday.

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