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Public Safety

Man accused of shooting woman over stolen purse faces trial in May

Zackary Ildefonso
Zackary Ildefonso

CEDAR RAPIDS — The trial for a Cedar Rapids man charged in the fatal shooting of a woman, and trying to shoot her friend, over a stolen purse, remains on track to start May 20 in Linn County District Court.

Zackary Ildefonso, 24, is charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder, trafficking stolen weapons and possession of a firearm by a felon.

He is accused of fatally shooting Heidi Stephens, 33, and shooting at her friend, Andrew Shank, 27, when they confronted Ildefonso at 1515 Second Ave. SE on Nov. 20, 2017, about Stephens’ purse, according to a criminal complaint.

Upon being confronted about the purse, Ildefonso pulled a Smith and Wesson .357 revolver and shot at Stephens and Shank, the criminal complaint states.

“The defendant admitted he used the weapon to shoot at both Stephens and Shank but claimed he fired because he thought Shank might have a knife in his possession,” according to the complaint.

One shot hit Stephens in the back of her neck, according to court documents.

Ildefonso ran from the scene, but police received a tip about his whereabouts, leading to his arrest Nov. 24.

When Ildefonso was arrested, he had the revolver used in the shooting, police said. The handgun was stolen, and Ildefonso admitted taking it, police also said.

The trial is expected to last five to six days, David Grinde, Ildefonso’s lawyer, said during a Friday hearing at the courthouse.

He said all the depositions are completed, and they are still attempting to contact other possible witnesses, who are “transient,” but he didn’t anticipate that would delay the trial.

Assistant Linn County Attorney Rena Schulte also said she didn’t expect any delays.

Ildefonso, who plans to claim self-defense, asked the court to keep out statements he made to police because he didn’t waive his rights and had mental issues at the time.

Grinde, during a previous hearing, argued he has diagnoses of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, oppositional defiant disorder and polysubstance abuse, according to court documents.

Ildefonso has been prescribed medications to help with his mental health issues, but on the day of the interview, he told an investigator he hadn’t taken the medication, Grinde said.

Sixth Judicial District Judge Ian Thornhill denied the motion, ruling that Ildefonso waived his rights and agreed to talk with police. Thornhill pointed out the investigator who questioned Ildefonso had many years of experience, and it didn’t appear to him that Ildefonso was under the influence of any substances.

During the interview, Ildefonso provided information about the shooting, Thornhill said in the ruling. At times, he refused to answer questions that might incriminate others.

After watching a video of the interview, Thornhill determined it was the defendant’s “free and conscious choice” to answer questions. He wasn’t coerced and had been properly advised of his rights, he added.

Trent Hoppe of Waterloo, the brother of Stephens, told The Gazette that medical personnel provided aid to Stephens after the shooting, but she was declared brain dead two days later. She was kept on life support until Nov. 24 so her organs could be donated.

Ildefonso remains in jail on a $1 million bail. If convicted of first-degree murder, he faces life in prison without parole.

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