IOWA CITY — The attorney for a former Iowa City man accused of killing his wife in 1997 is seeking to get the case dismissed, arguing the 17 years that have passed since the crime and his client’s own failing health will hinder the defense’s efforts.
Iowa City attorney Leon Spies said he filed the motion to dismiss for his client, 74-year-old John Bloomfield, “based primarily on the passage of time, the dimming of memories and — most significantly — the deteriorating health of Mr. Bloomfield.”
However, the prosecution says it will resist Spies’ motion.
Bloomfield, a former University of Iowa researcher now residing in St. Paul, Minn., was arrested on a charge of first-degree murder last November, more than 16 years after his wife, Frances, was found dead in Illinois. John Bloomfield reported his wife missing in Sept. 22, 1997. Her body — bound with pantyhose and wrapped in plastic and duct tape — was found three days later in Winnebago County, Ill.
Authorities believe Frances Bloomfield had been strangled in her Iowa City home. Court documents released in 1997 revealed investigators who responded to the residence found blood stains in two bedrooms on the second floor of the home, as well as a mark that indicated Bloomfield was dragged through the hallway.
A blood stain also was found on the wall at the bottom of the stairs between the first and second floors, and two stains were located on the garage floor.
Bloomfield has maintained his innocence in his wife’s death and told authorities he was in the Chicago area, returning from a business trip at the time of his wife’s deaths. According to a notice of alibi filed Tuesday along with the motion to dismiss, Spies will present evidence that at the time of the crime Bloomfield was in Detroit, the Chicago area, Albuquerque and Dallas/Fort Worth.
Bloomfield was extradited to Johnson County following his arrest. In February, Spies said his client was suffering from a variety of ailments, most notably metastatic prostate cancer, which has spread to Bloomfield’s ribs, vertebrae and lymph nodes. He also suffers from diabetes, carpal tunnel syndrome, a sleep disorder, fatigue and other afflictions.
Spies said in February his client — who was later placed on house arrest in St. Paul so he could receive medical care — could have less than a year to live. In Tuesday’s motion to dismiss, Spies said his client’s deteriorating health makes it unlikely that he will be “physically or mentally capable of actively contributing to his own defense or participating in a lengthy trial.”
Citing his client’s right to medical privacy, Spies said Tuesday he would not elaborate on his client’s current condition until a later time.
“There will be an appropriate forum where those details will be disclosed to the court,” he said.
Furthermore, Spies’ motion states that “critical” defense witnesses have “disappeared” and the memories of others have faded. He also argued that a two-year delay between when the criminal investigation was allegedly completed and when his client was charged — with the prosecution and law enforcement aware of his client’s failing health — amounts to a violation of his due process rights.
Assistant Johnson County attorney Anne Lahey said she can’t speak to the delay in arresting Bloomfield, noting it’s a part of the pending case. However, she said — generally speaking — a lengthy passage of time between a crime and a criminal trial can affect both the defense and the prosecution.
“That’s always a concern,” Lahey said. “Obviously, it can happen to both sides.”
Lahey has not yet filed a motion to dismiss and a hearing on the matter has not yet been set.
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