Public Safety

Hiawatha man pleads guilty to voluntary manslaughter, sentenced to 10 years for killing mother

Sister of victim says Joseph Hubbard loved his mother

CEDAR RAPIDS — Susan Roeder said Friday her sister, Deborah Roman, loved her son and would have forgiven him for killing her Dec. 2, 2016.

Roeder, in a victim’s impact statement, said her sister was close to both her children and loved them. She said Roman tried to help her son, Joseph Hubbard, but it was that “motherly love that would eventually prove to be fatal.”

“Part of me died that day with her,” Roeder, tearing up, said.

Hubbard, 33, of Hiawatha, originally charged with second-degree murder, pleaded Friday in Linn County District Court to voluntary manslaughter. He admitted to causing the death of Roman, 56, at her mobile home, where he was living at the time. Hubbard also admitted it happened during a “heated argument.”

According to law, voluntary manslaughter is when someone causes the death of another by “sudden, violent and irresistible passion,” resulting from a serious “provocation.”

Assistant Linn County Attorney Jason Bessler, after the hearing, explained more details of what happened that day. It’s his theory that while Hubbard and his mother were in an argument, Hubbard’s behavior caused Roman to pick up a knife to “scare him,” but he tackled her in an attempt to get the knife.

Hubbard then picked up some peeled rotten apples, that he planned to feed to the deer, and shoved them into her mouth, causing her to choke to death, Bessler said. An autopsy showed Roman died from choking on the rotten apples.

Roman’s body was found on the living room floor of the mobile home, near the bag of apples, Bessler said.

Hubbard didn’t plan to kill her, Bessler noted. He just wanted to get the knife from her.


There is evidence that Hubbard has mental health issues and both the state and defense experts conceded that there were “mental health concerns,” Bessler added.

After taking Hubbard’s plea, 6th Judicial District Judge Mary Chicchelly also sentenced him, at his request, but he declined to speak, only saying “I have nothing to say” before being sentenced. Chicchelly sentenced Hubbard to 10 years in prison and ordered him to pay $150,000 in victim restitution to Roman’s estate.

The judge also dismissed the other pending charges of third-degree burglary and assault causing bodily injury as part of the plea agreement.

After the hearing, Roeder told news reporters that she wanted people to understand her sister was a “great person” and that “Joe was also a good person,” and she knew they loved each other.

She also said her family wanted him to get the help he needs.

Hubbard was arrested after Hiawatha police found him naked in the 700 block of North Center Point Road on Dec. 2, 2016, attempting to get into several vehicles before getting into a construction van, according to court documents.

Officers said Hubbard “appeared to be in an altered state of mind.” He told officers he had found his mother dead that morning.

Officers then took him to a hospital for examination, and he confessed that he killed his mother by shoving a rotten apple down her throat.

Police went to Roman’s mobile home at 213 Sunset Lane and found Roman’s body inside.

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