Public Safety

Cedar Rapids man sentenced to 60 years in fatal shooting

Confrontation started 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. Ildefonso, 25, was sentenced this week to 60 years in prison in the Nov. 20, 2017, shooting of Heidi Stephens, 33, and Andrew Shank, 27, in southeast Cedar Rapids. Stephens died four days later. (The Gazette)
Zackary Ildefonso (left) talks with his attorney, David Grinde, before a February 2018 hearing in Linn County District Court in Cedar Rapids. Ildefonso, 25, was sentenced this week to 60 years in prison in the Nov. 20, 2017, shooting of Heidi Stephens, 33, and Andrew Shank, 27, in southeast Cedar Rapids. Stephens died four days later. (The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — A 25-year-old Cedar Rapids man was sentenced this week to 60 years in prison for fatally shooting a woman and attempting to shoot her friend after they confronted him about a stolen purse.

Zackary Ildefonso, who was originally charged with first-degree murder and four other charges, pleaded in May to voluntary manslaughter, attempted murder and first-degree burglary.

During the plea hearing in May, 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, Ildefonso pulled 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, the complaint states.

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

Trent Hoppe, Stephens’ brother, told The Gazette she was declared brain dead two days later. She was kept on life support until Nov. 24 so her organs could be donated.

Ildefonso, who ran from the scene, was arrested Nov. 24 after police received a tip about his whereabouts. When he was arrested, he had the handgun used in the shooting, according to court documents.

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 Thursday that Stephens’ mother, Tracy Hoppe, had said in a victim impact statement she never understood why Ildefonso shot her daughter.

“She said she will miss her daughter every day for the rest of her life,” Schulte said.

After the May hearing, Schulte, calling it a “senseless crime,” said Ildefonso apparently took Stephens’ purse as some kind of revenge because he thought she had disrespected him.

Sixth Judicial District Judge Ian Thornhill, in his sentencing order, said Ildefonso must be imprisoned a mandatory minimum of 22-1/2 years before being eligible for parole.

Thornhill also ordered him to pay $150,000 in restitution to Stephens’ estate or heirs.

Ildefonso had planned to claim self-defense but made a plea agreement 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.

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

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

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