Attorney asks for delay in Bloomfield's first-degree murder trial

Preparations slowed by Bloomfield's ill health, scope of investigation

John Bloomfield makes his initial appearance before District Associate Court Judge Stephen Gerard via cctv at the Johnso
John Bloomfield makes his initial appearance before District Associate Court Judge Stephen Gerard via cctv at the Johnson County Courthouse on Friday, December, 13, 2013 in Iowa City, Iowa. Bloomfield is charged with first-degree murder in the 1997 death of his wife. (Adam Wesley/The Gazette)

John Bloomfield’s first-degree murder trial, scheduled to begin next month, will likely be pushed back.

Leon Spies, Bloomfield’s attorney, filed an unresisted motion on Friday seeking to continue his client’s trial and pretrial conference based on the amount of work yet to be completed in trial preparations. Bloomfield’s pretrial conference is scheduled for June 27 and his trial is scheduled for July 8.

Bloomfield, 73, is accused of killing his wife — 57-year-old Frances Bloomfield in 1997 — at the couple’s home in Iowa City. She was reported missing by her husband, then a researcher at the University of Iowa, on Sept. 22, 1997. Three days later, Winnebago County, Ill. authorities found a body bound with pantyhose and wrapped in plastic and duct tape in a ditch near Rockford.

Authorities believed Frances Bloomfield had been strangled in her Iowa City home. Court documents released in 1997 revealed investigators who responded to the Bloomfield home 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. Her car was later discovered at Newark, N.J., International Airport.

John Bloomfield told authorities he was in the Chicago area returning from a business trip at the time of his wife’s death. However, police said Bloomfield was unable to sufficiently account for the time when he would have been driving. Authorities now say they have DNA and hair evidence connecting Bloomfield to the murder.

Bloomfield moved from Iowa City shortly after his wife’s death and had been living in St. Paul, Minn. before being arrested last November. Earlier this year, Bloomfield successfully petitioned to be placed on house arrest back in St. Paul so he could be closer to his health care team. Spies said at a hearing in February that his client’s health is deteriorating and he is suffering from metastatic prostate cancer, which has spread to his ribs, vertebrae and lymph nodes. He also suffers from diabetes, carpal tunnel syndrome, a sleep disorder and fatigue.

During the February hearing, Spies said his client may have less than a year to live.

Spies said in his motion and on Tuesday that trial preparations have been “burdened somewhat by Mr. Bloomfield’s health.”

There is also an “enormous” amount of discovery and investigation left to be done to prepare for trial, Spies said.

“In addition to conducting its own investigation, the defense has been furnished with thousands of pages of investigative reports, business records, emails, photographs, scientific analyses and additional documentary materials compiled in the course of the investigation,” Spies’ motion states. “ ... given the vast amount of materials described above, defense counsel does not believe that this case can reasonably be readied for trail on the date currently set.”

Spies said he has spoken with Assistant Johnson County Attorney Anne Lahey and has been informed the state will not resist the request. A scheduling conference to reset the trial has been requested.

If convicted of first-degree murder, Bloomfield would spend the rest of his life in prison.