CEDAR RAPIDS — A third man pleaded guilty Thursday in a marijuana robbery that led to the fatal shooting of 20-year-old Dylan Plotz in 2017.
Chase D. Zerba, 20, of Coggon, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to one count of conspiracy to distribute marijuana and one count of using, carrying, brandishing and discharging a firearm during a drug-trafficking crime. During the plea, Zerba admitted to distributing marijuana with others on Feb. 1, 2017, when Plotz was killed during the drug deal.
He also said Tyler M. Clemens, 23, of Alburnett, was guilty of the same count of using, carrying, brandishing and discharging the gun during a drug trafficking crime.
U.S. Magistrate Mark Roberts told Zerba he faces up to five years in prison on the distributing charge and a mandatory minimum of 10 years and up to life on the firearm charge.
The plea agreement in this case remains under seal because two more defendants have plea deals or trials pending. Two others have pleaded guilty to charges related to the fatal drug deal.
Each of the five men were charged with robbery, drugs or gun charges, but according to testimony during previous hearings, authorities cannot determine who fired the 20-gauge shotgun that killed Plotz, a Jefferson High School graduate.
During previous hearings, investigators testified that Plotz, 21-year-old Dillon Beener and 19-year-old Kordell Jones, both of Cedar Rapids, and a juvenile, who was driving but hasn’t been charged, traveled from Cedar Rapids to Zerba’s home in rural Coggon where they planned to rob Zerba of a half-pound of marijuana.
Plotz was armed with a .40-caliber pistol, according to testimony.
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Zerba asked friends Clemens and Cameron Klouda, 21, of Coggon, to come over in case something went wrong, and they waited in a minivan outside the house to make the drug deal, according to authorities.
Clemens and Zerba took a shotgun from the house, which Clemens loaded and carried to the van, according to authorities. Klouda also was armed with a knife.
After discussing the price of marijuana, Plotz, who was outside the van with Beener and Jones, pointed his gun at Zerba, authorities said. According to testimony, Zerba then yelled “Pull it up,” then Clemens raised the shotgun and discharged it.
When authorities arrived, they found Plotz dead with a shotgun wound to the face.
Despite testimony that Clemens fired the gun, authorities say they have not determined who pulled the trigger. According to testimony during a detention hearing, Clemens told police he thought Klouda pulled the trigger.
Beener and Jones previously pleaded to attempted robbery and firearm charges and face seven to 20 years in prison.
Clemens is scheduled to enter a plea Nov. 5, and Klouda’s trial is scheduled for Nov. 19, but his lawyer has filed a motion to continue.
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