Public Safety

Cedar Rapids man pleads to lesser charges in fatal shooting

2017 slaying of woman was over stolen purse

Zackary Ildefonso (left) talks with his attorney, David Grinde, before a February 2018 hearing in Linn County District Court in Cedar Rapids. On Friday, Ildefonso pleaded to attempted murder, voluntary manslaughter and first-degree burglary in the Nov. 20, 2017, shooting of Heidi Stephens, 33, of Cedar Rapids. He faces up to 60 years in prison. (The Gazette)
Zackary Ildefonso (left) talks with his attorney, David Grinde, before a February 2018 hearing in Linn County District Court in Cedar Rapids. On Friday, Ildefonso pleaded to attempted murder, voluntary manslaughter and first-degree burglary in the Nov. 20, 2017, shooting of Heidi Stephens, 33, of Cedar Rapids. He faces up to 60 years in prison. (The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — A 25-year-old Cedar Rapids man — who stole a gun in 2017 and fatally shot a woman and tried to shoot her friend over a stolen purse — had pleaded guilty to lesser charges.

Zackary Ildefonso, originally charged with first-degree murder and four other charges, pleaded guilty Friday in Linn County District Court to attempted murder, voluntary manslaughter and first-degree burglary.

During the hearing, Ildefonso admitted to intentionally shooting Heidi Stephens, 33, and to shooting at her friend, Andrew Shank, 27, with the intention of causing his death, when they confronted Ildefonso at 1515 Second Ave. SE on Nov. 20, 2017, about Stephens’ stolen purse.

When confronted about the purse, Ildefonso pulled out a Smith and Wesson .357 revolver and shot at Stephens and Shank, according to a criminal complaint. He told police he fired because he thought Shank might have a knife in his possession, the complaint states.

One shot hit Stephens in the back of her neck, according to court documents.

Ildefonso ran from the scene, but police received a tip about his whereabouts, leading to his arrest Nov. 24.

When he was arrested, he had the handgun used in the shooting, police said.

Ildefonso admitted, during the hearing, to breaking into a residence at 515 Second Ave. SE on Oct. 23, 2017, and stealing the revolver.

Assistant Linn County Attorney Rena Schulte said after the hearing that the shooting was a “senseless” crime.

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Ildefonso apparently took Stephens’ purse as some kind of revenge because he thought she had disrespected him, Schulte said.

During the hearing, 6th Judicial District Judge Ian Thornhill told Ildefonso that he faces up to 10 years in prison for voluntary manslaughter and 25 years each for the other convictions. The sentences will be run consecutively for a total of 60 years in prison, according to the plea agreement, he said.

Thornhill also said Ildefonso faces up a mandatory minimum of 27-1/2 years in prison before being eligible for parole.

Ildefonso had planned to claim self-defense, but a plea agreement was made after he lost an attempt to keep out of trial statements he had made to police after his arrest.

His lawyer argued unsuccessfully that Ildefonso hadn’t waived his rights and had mental issues at the time.

Thornhill denied the motion, ruling that Ildefonso waived his rights and agreed to talk with police. Thornhill pointed out the investigator who questioned Ildefonso had many years of experience, and it didn’t appear to him Ildefonso was under the influence of any substances.

During the interview, Ildefonso provided information about the shooting, Thornhill said in the ruling. At times, he refused to answer questions that might incriminate others.

Thornhill, after watching a video of the police interview, said Ildefonso wasn’t coerced and had been properly advised of his rights.

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Trent Hoppe of Waterloo, the brother of Stephens, told The Gazette that medical personnel provided aid to Stephens after the shooting, but she was declared brain dead two days later. She was kept on life support until Nov. 24 so her organs could be donated.

l Comments: (319) 398-8318; trish.mehaffey@thegazette.com

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