$1 million bond set for suspect in 1999 Cedar Rapids homicide

High bond request tied to suspect's violent criminal history

Deshaun Phillips makes his initial appearance in Linn County District Court with his attorney Tyler Johnston on a first-
Deshaun Phillips makes his initial appearance in Linn County District Court with his attorney Tyler Johnston on a first-degree murder charge in the 1999 homicide of Judith Weeks in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

A judge ordered a $1 million cash bond Wednesday for a Minnesota man charged in the 1999 homicide of Judith Weeks.

Deshaun Phillips, 35, of Shakopee, Minn., was arrested last year for Weeks’ death, but he was being held in Minnesota on a domestic abuse charge and fought extradition back to Iowa.

Phillips, with his attorney Tyler Johnston, appeared by video from the Linn County Jail and was formally charged Wednesday with first-degree murder in Linn County District Court.

Phillips is accused of killing Weeks, 44, by striking and strangling her while committing a sexual assault or robbery April 4, 1999, according to the criminal complaint. The assault occurred at 1319 Second Ave. SE.

According to court documents back in 1999, Weeks’ body was found nude from the waist down behind 1319 Second Ave. SE, and she had an injury to her forehead. The wound was made by a "bladed object," according to police reports.

In asking for $1 million bond, Assistant Linn County Attorney Jason Burns said that Phillips had a lengthy and violent criminal history. Phillips had a failure to appear in the past, committed a violent offense in Minnesota and is an “extreme risk of flight,” he said.

According to Iowa Courts Online, Phillips was charged in late April 1999 with domestic abuse for the second time and was fined and sentenced to seven days in jail. In June 1999, Phillips was charged with two counts of second-degree burglary, and in July 1999, he was charged with one count of first-degree burglary.

Court records show that he pleaded guilty to two counts of third-degree burglary and one count of second-degree burglary in those cases. Phillips was released from prison in February 2012.

After the hearing, Burns said he couldn’t elaborate on how Weeks was killed or the injuries she suffered.

Family members and friends of Weeks attended the short hearing but declined to comment.

Weeks’ family members told The Gazette last year, after police announced Phillips’ arrest, that while they were relieved someone would be prosecuted, it brought back painful memories, but it wouldn’t bring back their mother and sister.

There was insufficient evidence at the time of the homicide to bring charges, but police last year wouldn’t say what led to a break in the case. The case has been reviewed numerous times since the original investigation, but last year investigators developed new information on Phillips.

Weeks’ daughter, Kristin Twilla of West Liberty, told The Gazette last year after the arrest that a Cedar Rapids police investigator told her DNA led them to Phillips.