Northwood stabbing defendant asks for change of venue

Published 2:30 pm Tuesday, October 8, 2013

NORTHWOOD — The public defender of the Northwood man accused of stabbing his ex-girlfriend to death in August in Swensrud Park is asking for a change of venue.

Susan R. Flander made the motion Friday in Worth County District Court on behalf of Tyrone Robin Washington Jr.

Judge Colleen Weiland is slated to hear the venue motion and a second motion to push back the trial during a hearing Oct. 28. His trial had been scheduled to begin Oct. 30.

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Washington, 39, faces a charge of first-degree murder in the Aug. 5 death of Justina Marie Smith, 30. Iowa State Patrol troopers arrested Washington in Scott County, Iowa, after he allegedly stabbed Smith in the park, then fled the scene in her car, a silver 2003 Pontiac Grand Prix. An autopsy stated Smith died from multiple sharp-force injuries.

Washington was spotted later that day on Interstate 80 in Cedar County, Iowa, before allegedly leading police on a high-speed chase ending in Scott County, where he reportedly drove through corn and bean fields along the interstate.

Washington pleaded not guilty to his charge in September.

Worth County court records state Washington had allegedly assaulted and strangled Smith the month before. A judge had issued an order of protection for Smith against Washington, and he was ordered to stay at least 1,000 feet away from Smith, her two children, and her home and workplace, according to court documents. On July 25, Smith reportedly asked that the restraining order be lifted, but then on Aug. 2 she asked that it be reinstated.

At the end of September, Washington hand-wrote a letter to Weiland asking he get a new lawyer.

He is being held in the Worth County jail on a $500,000 cash-only bond.