Witness testifies about assault of Northwood woman in murder case
Published 12:37 pm Thursday, July 9, 2015
FORT DODGE, Iowa — Testimony gripped a Webster County courtroom Thursday as a man described witnessing the assault of a Northwood woman that ultimately led to her death in 2013.
The testimony came at the trial of Tyrone Washington Jr., of Northwood, who is accused of first-degree murder in the stabbing death of his ex-girlfriend, Justina Smith, 30, also of Northwood.
Tyrone Jones, a 27-year-old Mason City man, testified that he and Smith had driven to Swensrud Park in Northwood Aug. 5, 2013, to get apartment keys and money from Washington.
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Jones said he saw Washington at the park and that Smith exited her silver Grand Prix and met with Washington at the back of the car.
The two began arguing, and Jones said he soon saw Washington hitting and punching Smith. He got out of the car to help her. Washington had a knife, Jones said.
He said Smith was screaming and he approached them and yelled at Washington to “get the (expletive) off her!”
Jones testified that Washington swung the knife at him. He said he leaned back to avoid the swing.
Washington tried to run him and Smith over and then got out of the car before leaving and kicked Smith in the head, Jones said.
Both Jones and Smith dialed 911. The recordings played in court Thursday morning.
He said Smith was scared of Washington prior to her death.
“She was terrified of him,” he said.
Attorney Charles Kenville argued that there were differences between Jones’ deposition and his testimony.
Jones testified that Washington had entered Smith’s apartment in Northwood the night of Aug. 4, 2013. Jones said Washington and Smith had briefly argued. Smith called the Worth County Sheriff’s Office and Washington took off, Jones said.
Kenville said during Jones’ deposition in 2014, he claimed Washington had entered the residence at an earlier date.
There were a couple incidents involving Smith and Washington prior to Smith’s death, said Worth County Deputy Dennis Paulson.
Paulson testified that on July 6, 2013, authorities were dispatched to Smith’s apartment complex. Washington came out of the apartment complex saying the situation was a misunderstanding and things were blown out of proportion.
Smith was frightened and worked up when authorities arrived, Paulson said.
She told authorities that her and Washington had gotten into an argument and that he had grabbed her by the throat and hit her on the head, Paulson said.
Smith suffered bruises from the alleged incident.
Pictures of bruising on Smith’s face were shown to the courtroom.
Paulson testified that Washington became agitated and upset. When Washington was told he was going to be arrested, he fled the scene. He was arrested a short time later, Paulson said.
Kenville grilled Paulson, asking why he didn’t check Washington’s body for injury.
A break-in at Smith’s apartment complex was reported on Aug. 1, 2013. Washington was located inside a closet and was arrested for violating a no-contact order.
Kenville argued that the no-contact order was broken mutually on occasion and that Paulson should have read the text messages Washington said he had of him and Smith agreeing to meet.
It wouldn’t have mattered if the meeting was mutual, because a no-contact order was still in place, said Iowa Assistant Attorney General Laura Roan.
More testimony is scheduled for today.
The trial was originally set to begin in May. It was moved to Webster County on a change of venue due to the lack of African-Americans in Worth County. Washington is African-American.