Defense claims eyewitness committed Iowa double homicide

Published 10:02 pm Wednesday, July 19, 2017

By Mason City Globe Gazette

FORT DODGE, Iowa — A public defender on Wednesday questioned why an eyewitness was not investigated as a suspect in a Mason City double homicide.

Steven Kloberdanz said Ron Willis’ DNA, not Peter Veal’s, was found on the grip of a gun recovered at the scene.

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Veal, 31, of Lake Mills is on trial in Webster County Court for two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Melinda Kavars and Caleb Christensen. He is also charged with attempted murder for allegedly trying to kill Willis.

Peter Veal

Kloberdanz also questioned why the trunk of Willis’ car wasn’t searched, and why investigators didn’t take clothing from him.

A woman testified Tuesday that Willis raped her two weeks before Christensen and Kavars were found dead at Christensen’s North Hampshire Avenue home on Nov. 17.

The woman, who the Globe Gazette is not identifying, said Christensen was mad at Willis after she told him Willis sexually assaulted her. The woman said she never told police about the alleged incident because she was scared of Willis.

While Veal’s hands were found to be covered in blood, Kloberdanz said his DNA was not found on the knife prosecutors said was used to fatally stab Christensen.

Christensen was stabbed 25 times in the head, neck, stomach and spleen, prosecutor Scott Brown said.

“This was a brutal, senseless slaying of two people and a near miss on a third,” Brown said, describing the crime scene as a “slaughterhouse.”

Brown said Willis’ head was cut open when Veal hit him with gun and a piece of Willis’ tissue was found on the gun.

Physical evidence connects Veal to the murders, Brown argued, but no such evidence links Willis to them.

Veal ran when a cop spotted him, shedding bloody clothing as he ran, Brown said, noting the blood on the clothing matched Christensen’s DNA.

Willis put his bloody coat on Veal, who was under the influence of drugs, so he would take the fall in the double homicide, Kloberdanz said.

Kloberdanz during closing arguments also claimed Willis shot his cousin, Kavars, because she was laughing at him, and had plenty of time to clean up before police arrived.

Brown said Kloberdanz “told quite a story.”

“Wow,” Brown said. “What was all that based on? Nothing.”

Kloberdanz objected, saying Brown was attacking him. The objection was overruled, but the judge told Brown to proceed with caution.

Brown questioned if Willis is the “mastermind” defense claims, why would he have identified himself in a 911 call and said he was at a crime scene.

The case has been submitted to a Webster County jury.

The jury went home for the night and will resume deliberations at 9 a.m. today.