Public Safety

Earlville man accused of killing wife with corn rake wants trial moved

Lawyer argues publicity prevents fair trial in Delaware County

Todd Mullis
Todd Mullis

MANCHESTER — An Earlville man accused of killing his wife with a corn rake wants his trial moved out of Delaware County because, his attorney argues, the “glare of publicity” is focused on a husband killing his wife.

Todd M. Mullis, 42, was charged in February in Delaware County District Court with first-degree murder.

Authorities accuse Mullis of fatally stabbing his wife, Amy Mullis, 39, on Nov. 10 at the couple’s home. An autopsy showed she died from stab wounds to her back.

Gerald Feuerhelm of Des Moines, Mullis’ lawyer, argued in a motion that the Mullis couple are well-known in the county because Todd Mullis has lived his entire life there, and his wife worked as a hospital emergency room nurse, where she worked closely with law enforcement.

Feuerhelm includes in the motion numerous print and online news articles from area newspapers, broadcast and radio stations and social media, and a few articles from out-of-state media or blogs.

The defense argues the media coverage has resulted in negative public bias and prejudice that is “so pervasive that he cannot receive a fair trial in any county with the 5th Judicial District or the Des Moines media market,” according to the court document.

Assistant Iowa Attorney General Denise Timmins responded the defense failed to show prejudice exists in Delaware County to the extent that a fair and impartial jury cannot be selected.

During the investigation of Amy Mullis’ death, authorities learned the couple had struggled with marital problems for years and that she was having an affair with another man. Friends and family members told investigators Amy Mullis was scared of her husband and wanted to leave him.

On Nov. 10, Todd Mullis called 911, reporting his wife was “unresponsive” at the couple’s Earlville home in the 1700 block of 255th Avenue, a rural area northeast of Manchester in northeast Iowa.

Mullis told deputies he and their 13-year-old son were working in the hog building on their farm that day, according to a search warrant affidavit. His wife was helping in the barn but had recently returned home from surgery and appeared to have dizzy spells, Mullis told investigators.

Later, Mullis said he asked his son to check on his mother, according to court documents. He then heard his son yell, and Mullis ran over to find his wife in a crouched position just inside the shed doorway with a corn rake impaled in her back, the affidavit said.

Mullis told investigators he took his wife out of the building and pulled the rake out of her back. He then put her in his pickup truck with their son and drove toward the hospital as he called 911. First responders reached them midway to the hospital and transferred Amy Mullis to the ambulance to take her to Regional Medical Center in Manchester where she was pronounced dead.

An autopsy Nov. 12 showed Amy Mullis’ injuries were not consistent with falling onto a four-tined corn rake, as suggested by her husband, according to authorities. There were six puncture wounds to her body. Two of the six wounds were at an upward angle and four were at a downward angle, according to a state medical examiner. Her death was ruled a homicide.

In the months leading up to her death, a friend said Amy Mullis told her if she came up missing to look for her body in a wooded area that she and her husband had recently purchased, according to the affidavit.

Todd Mullis is being held at Delaware County Jail under a $5 million bail, according to court records.

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

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