Albert Lea man found guilty in Iowa killing

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 21, 2003

MASON CITY, Iowa (AP) &045; A Minnesota man has been convicted of first-degree murder and first-degree theft in the death of an Iowa man who was found shot four times in the back of his head last Thanksgiving Day.

A Cerro Gordo County jury deliberated about five hours over two days before convicting Eric Esse, 34, of Albert Lea, on Friday in the death of Timothy Mammen, 44, of Plymouth, Iowa.

Esse will be sentenced Oct. 17. The murder conviction carries a mandatory life sentence. The theft conviction carries a maximum sentence of 25 years.

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In his closing arguments Thursday, prosecutor Scott Brown of the Iowa Attorney General’s Office asked the jury to focus on Esse’s actions.

&uot;Timothy Mammen was shot in the head, four times from behind in a very cowardly act,&uot; Brown told the jury. &uot;The number of shots indicate that there was some forethought.&uot;

Brown focused on nine hours of interviews investigators did with Esse on Dec. 2-3, prior to his arrest.

&uot;You heard the many different stories in this case,&uot; Brown said. &uot;He went on and on. People who have nothing to hide tell the truth.&uot;

Brown reviewed the stories the jury heard on the police tape, ranging from Esse saying he was at Mammen’s house and witnessed nothing, to he saw a mutual friend by the name of Scott Peterson shoot Mammen. Esse said he took $850 in cash and a significant amount of methamphetamine to keep quiet.

&uot;Then the next day, he told the investigators a completely different story,&uot; Brown continued, &uot;that he went back to Plymouth and found Mammen already dead, saying he then stole the money and the meth.&uot;

Esse’s attorney, Dean Stowers of Des Moines, called many of the witnesses in the two-week case &uot;suspicious characters,&uot; mentioning that many of them lied to police during the investigation.

Stowers said when his client misled police it was called lying, but when others changed their stories, it was labeled as confusion.

Stowers also accused police of using bad information to charge Esse. He said police aggressively pushed his client during the taped investigations and that he acknowledged he was under the influence of meth.

&uot;A lot of bad-quality evidence does not make a good case,&uot; he said. &uot;There were a lot of shifting theories in this case.&uot;