Public Safety

Jury acquits Marion man on attempted murder charge in stabbing of former girlfriend

Hung jury on two other charges, retrial set for March

David Merrifield
David Merrifield

CEDAR RAPIDS — A Linn County jury acquitted a Marion man last week for the attempted murder of his former girlfriend, but the judge declared a mistrial on two other charges because the jury couldn’t reach a unanimous verdict.

The jury, on Dec. 13, following a six-day trial, found David Merrifield, 51, not guilty of stabbing his former girlfriend, Teresa Plein, in the neck with the intent to cause her death on Dec. 22, 2015.

The jury was unable to reach a decision on charges of willful injury resulting in serious injury and assault while displaying a dangerous weapon, domestic abuse.

Merrifield is to be retried on those charges on March 6 in Linn County District Court. The prosecution must prove he assaulted Plein with a knife and with the intent to cause serious injury, a complaint shows.

Evidence during trial showed Plein was stabbed in the neck with a folding knife that had a 3-inch serrated blade.

Merrifield testified he and Plein were arguing that day about deflating an air mattress. He admitted to stabbing the air mattress seven times but said Plein jumped on his back during the argument and he accidentally stabbed her.

Plein, who had been drinking that night, testified she remembered them arguing over the air mattress and him stabbing the mattress, but then she must have passed out at some point, First Assistant Linn County Attorney Nick Maybanks said. She only recalled waking up to Merrifield holding a towel to her neck wound.

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Maybanks said Plein’s blood alcohol content level was .242 percent. The legal driving limit is .08 percent. Merrifield also admitted to drinking that night, Maybanks added.

A Mercy Medical Center trauma surgeon and an emergency room doctor testified Plein’s neck wound was 5-inches in length and 1-1/2 inches deep, Maybanks said. The stab wound was on the left side of her neck, near the carotid artery.

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

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