Public Safety

Iowa City homicide cold case going to trial after 21 years

Steven J. Klein, charged with first-degree murder, faces jury in March

(File Photo) Steven Klein exits the courtroom after a pretrial hearing at the Johnson County Courthouse in Iowa City on Friday, July 8, 2016. (Adam Wesley/The Gazette)
(File Photo) Steven Klein exits the courtroom after a pretrial hearing at the Johnson County Courthouse in Iowa City on Friday, July 8, 2016. (Adam Wesley/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — A 21-year-old homicide case remains on track to go to trial in the spring.

During a conference Friday afternoon, both prosecutors with the Johnson County Attorney’s Office and defense attorneys for 56-year-old Steven J. Klein said they saw no reason for delaying proceedings.

Klein is scheduled to go to trial on March 27. His final pretrial conference is scheduled for March 9.

Klein is accused of killing Susan Kersten in 1995, but he wasn’t arrested until July 2015. Authorities have said Kersten’s body was found in a field southeast of Iowa City on Sept. 24, 1995. The body was severely burned, but an autopsy revealed she died of several blows to her head.

Klein was quickly developed as a person of interest, but was not arrested until nearly 20 years later. That came after local authorities were visited by the cable television program, “Cold Justice,” which investigates cold cases involving homicide. Klein’s arrest came 10 days after TV crews arrived in Iowa City.

Judge Chad Kepros said 120 potential jurors are to be called and a questionnaire is to be drafted to help narrow the jury pool. Attorneys previously estimated the trial could take three weeks to complete.

Klein faces one count of first-degree murder, which carries a mandatory life sentence.

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