Public Safety

Coggon defendant 'danger to community,' judge says

Kordell Jones, one of five linked to fatal robbery, ordered jailed

CEDAR RAPIDS — A federal judge Monday ordered a 19-year-old with a violent criminal past to stay in jail pending trial in a marijuana robbery that turned into the Feb. 1, 2017, fatal shooting of his friend near Coggon.

U.S. Chief Magistrate C.J. Williams said he seldom had seen a defendant at that age who had committed more violent crimes — deciding Kordell Jones of Cedar Rapids poses a “danger to the community.” Williams detailed some of Jones’ past crimes, which began at age 16 and included drugs; assaulting a girlfriend; assaulting someone with a claw hammer, baseball bat and bottle; sexually assaulting a women; and robbing four of marijuana and beating them.

Jones committed some of these while under pretrial release. The robbery and beating happened a month before his friend, Dylan Plotz, 20, of Cedar Rapids, was killed during the plot to rob Chase Zerba, 20, of marijuana, Williams noted.

Williams ruled there were no conditions he could order that Jones would obey, so Jones will remain in jail pending trial, which hasn’t been scheduled.

Jones was charged last week with one count of attempted robbery and using, carrying, brandishing and discharging a firearm during a crime of violence. Four others also were charged on firearms or drug counts, but none was charged with Plotz’s death.

Chase Daniel Zerba, 20, and Cameron Lee Klouda, 21, both of Coggon, and Tyler Michael Clemens, 23, of Alburnett, each were charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute marijuana and using, carrying, brandishing, and discharging a firearm — a 20-gauge pump shotgun — during a drug trafficking crime. Zerba and Clemens each also were charged with being drug users in possession of the gun.

Dillon Craig Beener, 21, of Cedar Rapids, was charged with one count of attempted robbery and using, carrying, brandishing and discharging a firearm during a crime of violence.

Zerba, Klouda and Clemens will have detention and preliminary hearings next week in U.S. District Court. Beener was formally charged Monday and Judge Williams ordered him to remain jailed.

During Monday’s hearing, Linn County sheriff’s Sgt. Dave Beuter testified that Plotz, a roofer who graduated from Jefferson High, was found dead by deputies outside Zerba’s home, 2260 Seven Hills Rd., about 5 miles southwest of Coggon, after being called about a fight and shooting Feb. 1, 2017.

Beuter said Plotz, Jones, Beener and a juvenile who was driving the vehicle — but not charged in federal court — left from Cedar Rapids for Zerba’s home. During the drive, the three plotted to rob Zerba of marijuana. Plotz was armed with a .40-caliber High Point pistol.

When they got to the home near Coggon, Klouda and Clemens were in a minivan outside with Zerba, Beuter said.

Beuter said at this point, Beener, Plotz and Jones went to the van. Plotz pulled out the gun, put it Zerba’s head and said “Let’s do it.”

Beuter said Zerba yelled “get it up” and someone in the van fired a shotgun, striking Plotz in the face.

Beuter said investigators found the loaded .40-caliber pistol near Plotz’s body. They also found six containers of marijuana totaling 387 grams, and multiple jars of marijuana wax, court documents show.

Beuter testified that Jones — less than a month before this shooting — was charged in a robbery at Kirkwood Apartments. Jones and Plotz planned another marijuana robbery and Plotz was armed with a gun. The two beat up three or four others and one victim was seriously injured, he said.

If convicted, Jones faces a mandatory minimum of seven years and possibly up to life in prison.

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

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