Man charged in slaying case is suffering from cancer

Published 9:43 am Friday, February 21, 2014

IOWA CITY, Iowa  — A Minnesota man charged with killing his wife in Iowa in 1997 is suffering from prostate cancer and other illnesses and may only have months to live, his defense attorney said Thursday.

John Bloomfield’s attorney revealed the cancer diagnosis in asking a judge to let the 73-year-old be released from custody and live at home in St. Paul until trial, which is scheduled for July 8. A prosecutor said he opposed the release, and Judge Paul Miller said he would rule in the coming days after studying Bloomfield’s medical records.

Bloomfield was charged in November in the slaying of 57-year-old Frances Bloomfield at their Iowa City home in September 1997. Police say Bloomfield, a University of Iowa researcher at the time, strangled his wife and then dumped her body in a ditch near Rockford, Ill.

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Bloomfield, who had long been closely scrutinized, insisted that he was on a business trip at the time of her death. He was charged after police said they developed DNA and hair evidence that links him to the slaying. Bloomfield has pleaded not guilty.

Bloomfield entered the courtroom with the help of a cane and struggled to sit and stand during a hearing at the Johnson County Courthouse in Iowa City. Attorney Leon Spies said that a University of Minnesota doctor gave him a life expectancy of 12 to 15 months in a December report given Thursday to the judge.

His cancer, which was also confirmed by doctors at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, has spread to his ribs and elsewhere, and Bloomfield also is stricken with diabetes and other ailments, Spies said.

Spies said Bloomfield is willing to pay a private company for around-the-clock electronic monitoring, and to have a friend who lives nearby be appointed as a third-party custodian responsible for supervising him. Bloomfield would receive better medical treatment from his doctors in Minnesota, and living at home would give him and Spies more privacy to meet as they prepare for trial, the attorney said.

Bloomfield has lost weight and suffered increased fatigue while in custody, he said.

“The weight loss is detrimental to his long range vitality and his ability to sustain and focus on the task ahead,” Spies said.

Assistant Johnson County Attorney Jude Pannell resisted Bloomfield’s request for pretrial release, which he said would be unprecedented for a murder defendant in the county in recent decades. He said Bloomfield’s condition is stabilizing and he is receiving excellent medical care in a hospital-setting at the Iowa Medical and Classification Center in Coralville. He was transferred there, at county expense, to receive better care than what he was getting at the jail.

Allowing Bloomfield to live in Minnesota risks the chance that he could miss key court hearings, “allowing the case to drag on for some time.”

“Given the defendant’s prognosis, that would be contrary to the interests of justice and contrary to getting this case resolved,” he said.