Public Safety

Jury on hold until next week in trial for Williamsburg man charged in toddler's death

Testimony won't start until Tuesday

Cody Stevenson walks into the courtroom for a change of venue hearing and a case management conference at the Iowa County Courthouse in Marengo on Monday, Sep. 11, 2017. Stevenson is charged with first-degree murder. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Cody Stevenson walks into the courtroom for a change of venue hearing and a case management conference at the Iowa County Courthouse in Marengo on Monday, Sep. 11, 2017. Stevenson is charged with first-degree murder. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — A jury was expected to be selected late Wednesday in the trial of a Williamsburg man accused of hitting a toddler who later died in 2017, but testimony won’t begin until Tuesday in Linn County District Court.

Cody Stevenson, 30, is charged with first-degree murder. The trial was moved from Iowa County because of extensive pretrial publicity.

The unusual delay to start testimony came after a prosecutor had a death in his family Tuesday.

Assistant Attorney General Doug Hammerand, who is prosecuting Stevenson, asked for a short continuance because his brother had a heart attack and died Tuesday, but 6th Judicial District Judge Christopher Bruns denied the request, according to the Linn County Attorney’s Office.

Bruns said they would stay as late as necessary to select a jury Wednesday and testimony will be delayed until Tuesday so Hammerand could attend the memorial service.

Opening statements will begin 9 a.m. Tuesday, and the trial is expected to last about two weeks. The Gazette will provide live updates from the courtroom next week.

Stevenson is accused of hitting or punching his girlfriend’s child in the abdomen with a closed fist “at least 3 to 4 times” on June 30, 2017, according to criminal complaint. The 2-year-old, Izabella “Bella” Loffer, died from injuries three days later on July 3, police said.

Investigators said Stevenson, during an interrogation, admitted to being angry and hitting the child multiple times.

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Stevenson’s defense attorneys asked the court to keep those statement out of trial, arguing their client didn’t understand his Miranda rights — the right not to talk to authorities without a lawyer. But Judge Bruns ruled that those statements would be allowed at trial.

If convicted of first-degree murder, Stevenson faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole.

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

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