Woman says key witness raped her before Mason City double homicide

Published 9:42 pm Tuesday, July 18, 2017

By Mary Pieper, Mason City Globe Gazette

FORT DODGE, Iowa — A woman testified Tuesday in Peter Veal’s double homicide trial that a key witness for the state raped her two weeks before the victims were found dead at a Mason City home.

The woman said she knew both homicide victim Caleb Christensen and Ron Willis, the state witness who testified earlier in the trial. Willis testified he saw Veal fatally shoot Melinda Kavars Nov. 17 at Christensen’s North Hampshire Avenue home and escaped after Veal tried to shoot him.

Peter Veal

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Veal is charged with two counts of first-degree murder. He also faces an attempted murder charge for allegedly attempting to kill Willis.

The woman testified in front of the jury Tuesday that Christensen was mad at Willis after she told him Willis sexually assaulted her.

The Globe Gazette is not publishing the woman’s name. No charges were filed in the incident.

She said she never told police Willis sexually assaulted her because “I was scared of him.”

The woman began to cry when she started talking about going to Christensen’s house after he was killed. A short recess was called when she didn’t stop crying.

Before the woman reached the point in her testimony where she talked about her rape allegation against Willis, the jury was sent out of the courtroom so Judge Rustin Davenport could make a ruling on what questions she would be allowed to answer in front of jurors.

During this time the woman said Willis had left for a trip to Colorado when she told Christensen that Willis, who was a friend of his, had raped her.

She said Christensen told her he would ask Willis about it when he came back.

“Two weeks later Caleb was dead,” she said.

The woman who said Willis raped her testified she had previously seen him with a gun, which she described as a black pistol.

Public defender Steven Kloberdanz showed her the gun recovered at the crime scene, which she said wasn’t Willis’ gun.

Kloberdanz then asked her if she remembered meeting with him earlier and identifying Willis’ gun from a photo he showed her.

The woman said she did, but the gun Kloberdanz showed her in front of the jury didn’t look the same as the one she previously saw in a photo.

Another defense witness, Carol Daniels, testified Tuesday she had observed tension between Willis and Christensen, but they had patched things up a few days before Christensen and Kavars were killed.

An investigator the defense called as a witness said when Veal learned he was being charged with two counts of first-degree murder, he replied, “You’re tripping.”

The investigator, Aaron Onder of the Mason City Police Department, said that seemed to him like something someone who was surprised would say.

The defense rested its case shortly before noon. The jury was sent home for the day so the judge and the attorneys could work on jury instructions.

The jury returns at 9 a.m. Wednesday for jury instructions and closing arguments.

Veal’s trial was moved from Mason City to Fort Dodge due to pretrial publicity.