Public Safety

Man charged with attempted murder in downtown Cedar Rapids case pleads to misdemeanor

Zevon Johnson had asked for immunity under stand-your-ground law

CEDAR RAPIDS — A second man charged with attempted murder who planned to ask the court for immunity under Iowa’s stand-your-ground law instead pleaded guilty Friday to a misdemeanor gun charge.

Zevon Johnson, 21, of Urbandale, made a written plea of guilty to carrying weapons, an aggravated misdemeanor. He admitted to carrying a firearm within the city limits of Cedar Rapids without a permit on Jan. 28, according to the plea filed in Linn County District Court.

He faces a $625 fine and/or up to two years in jail.

Johnson, in a previous motion, said he fired a gun at Michael Hodges Jr., 23, of Cedar Rapids, Jan. 28 outside of Pub 217, at 217 Third St. SE, because Hodges was shooting at him.

Johnson fired his gun without hitting Hodges. But Hodges fired and struck Johnson in the chest, according to court documents.

Johnson argued he was justified in using deadly force to defend himself against Hodges, who was committing a forcible felony against him. That should entitle him to immunity from criminal liability according to the law, he said in the motion.

Assistant Linn County Attorney Rena Schulte dismissed the other charges — attempted murder, intimidation with a dangerous weapon and going armed with intent — against Johnson as part of the plea agreement.

Schulte said given the facts and circumstances of this case, including that Johnson didn’t have a permit to carry, this was the appropriate conviction in this case.

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Hodges, during a hearing last month, asked a judge for immunity because he fired at Johnson in self-defense. Hodges testified that he believed his life was in danger because of previous altercations with Johnson and his friends.

Hodges, who had a permit to carry a weapon, claimed during the hearing that Johnson fired at him first.

But according to the criminal complaints against Hodges and Johnson, the two men fired simultaneously at each other.

6th Judicial District Chief Judge Patrick Grady has yet to rule in Hodges’s case. He wanted a chance to review surveillance video footage from downtown cameras, which captured the shooting, and police reports.

Hodges’s trial was reset to July 23.

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

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