Public Safety

Curtis Jones trial: Police interview can't be used in murder trial for Iowa City bondsman's death

Ruling: Defendant asked for lawyer, law enforcement ignored

Curtis Jones arrives for a hearing at Johnson County District Court in Iowa City on Friday, Sept. 22, 2017. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
Curtis Jones arrives for a hearing at Johnson County District Court in Iowa City on Friday, Sept. 22, 2017. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — A judge ruled this week that the prosecution can’t use a police interview during one of the trials for a man accused of killing a cabdriver and bondsman in separate incidents last year.

In the ruling, 6th Judicial District Judge Lars Anderson said Curtis C. Jones, 41, charged with first-degree murder in both of the fatal shootings, clearly told investigators at the end of an interview June 30, 2017, that “Next time you come, bring my lawyer with you.” The investigators came back on Nov. 20 to talk with Jones again and continued to question him without his lawyer, Anderson said.

Jonathan Wieseler was killed April 22, 2017, and Ricky Lillie, a cabdriver, was fatally shot months later on June 27. Jones was charged in Lillie’s death after the first interview and wasn’t charged in Wieseler’s death until after second interview, according to court documents.

Neither the prosecution nor defense detail in court documents what Jones told investigators in either interview.

The prosecution argued Jones didn’t effectively assert his right to have a lawyer during the first interview and that Jones hadn’t been charged with Wieseler’s death at that time, so the investigators weren’t precluded from speaking with Jones on the separate charge.

Anderson, in the ruling, said it doesn’t matter if the second interview concerned a different offense. Law enforcement should have made it their responsibility to know if a defendant invokes his right to an attorney and abide by it, he said.

Anderson pointed out that Jones even made the statement at the end of the first interview, which “enhances its clarity.”

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Authorities say Jones shot Wieseler sometime between 10:20 and 10:32 p.m. on April 22 at Lederman Bail Bonds, where Wieseler worked in Iowa City. Police said the shooting happened during a robbery.

Jones is also accused of fatally shooting Lillie on June 27 after riding in his cab to the 500 block of Ernest Street in Iowa City, according to a criminal complaint.

Jones’ trial in the Wieseler homicide will start Sept. 28 in Polk County District Court. The trial was moved to Polk based on pretrial publicity.

The trial in Lillie’s homicide is set for Nov. 5 in Scott County District Court.

If convicted of first-degree murder, Jones faces life in prison without parole.

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

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