Public Safety

Judge in Manchester rejects plea deal in homemade cannon accident death

Lori Heims (obituary photo)
Lori Heims (obituary photo)

MANCHESTER, Iowa — A judge has rejected a plea deal for a man charged in the death of a woman hit in northeast Iowa by fragments from a homemade cannon.

Delaware County District Court records say Max Fenton pleaded guilty to aggravated misdemeanor involuntary manslaughter, which replaced the felony charge. A pair of fireworks-related charges were to be dropped as well.

The improvised cannon was made from the sawed-off barrel of a .50-caliber black powder rifle and was supposed to serve as a noisemaker. Authorities say the rear of the barrel “blew out” in Greeley the night of July 2, 2016, and fragments struck 55-year-old Lori Heims.

The Telegraph Herald reports that the judge rejected the deal last week, saying the plea was to a new charge that was not a lesser-included crime alleged among the original charges. Judge Michael Shubatt also said there didn’t appear to be a factual basis for the new charge.

Shubatt set a trial starting date of Feb. 5.

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