Public Safety

Medical examiner: Justin DeWitt died of natural causes

North Liberty landscaper was imprisoned after plotting to have a family killed

Justin DeWitt waits in the courtroom before for a hearing at Johnson County Courthouse in Iowa City on Monday, Oct. 2, 2
Justin DeWitt waits in the courtroom before for a hearing at Johnson County Courthouse in Iowa City on Monday, Oct. 2, 2017. (The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — Justin DeWitt, a former North Liberty landscaper imprisoned for plotting to kill a family of four and witnesses in that case, died of natural causes, according to autopsy results.

Clayton Schuneman, Johnson County Medical Examiner’s Office administrative director, said DeWitt died Feb. 7 of atherosclerotic heart disease. The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation investigated DeWitt’s death and confirmed there were “no signs of foul play or evidence of self-harm,” according to the Iowa Department of Public Safety.

DeWitt, 39, was found dead at the Iowa Medical and Classification Center in Coralville, where he had been serving time since July 2018.

DeWitt was arrested in June 2016 when he plotted to kill a man and his family over a landscaping dispute. DeWitt met with a person he thought was a hit man — but actually was an undercover officer — and gave him a down payment of $1,000 to have the family killed.

While awaiting trial and being held in the Muscatine County Jail, DeWitt plotted to have witnesses in the case against him killed. He eventually met twice with another undercover officer to make arrangements to have the witnesses killed and received additional charges.

DeWitt pleaded to lesser charges in the first case, and a jury took only 12 minutes to convict him in the second.

Comments: (319) 339-3155; lee.hermiston@thegazette.com

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