OTTUMWA—One of the co-defendants in a 2006 1st Degree Murder case has agreed to a plea deal that will spare him possible life in prison.
Zachary Allen Dye, 28, of Council Bluffs and formerly of Ottumwa, sat in a Poweshiek County courtroom (the trial was moved from Wapello County due to a scheduling conflict) on Monday, January 30th, along with his defense attorney Alfredo Parrish, and pled guilty to 1st Degree Arson, a Class B felony. This crime could be punishable by up to 25 years in prison. However, that’s much less time than Dye might have faced otherwise.
Dye, along with co-defendant Christopher Joseph Yenger, 29, of Ottumwa, were each charged with two counts of 1st Degree murder in the deaths of Nathan Messer, 20, and Seth Anderson, 22. The two victims died in a house fire March 5, 2006, that for nearly 10 years was believed to have started by accident. However, new information in 2016 led law enforcement to reopen the investigation due to the belief that the fire may have been started intentionally, and charge Dye and Yenger with murder.
The plea agreement means that Dye will plead guilty to a new 1st Degree Arson charge and the state will dismiss the original two counts of 1st Degree murder. In exchange for cooperating and giving testimony in the co-defendants trial, the State will also contact the parole board to let them know that Dye assisted and was cooperative.
This means that Dye will most likely be asked to testify in the jury trial against Yenger that begins next week, Tuesday, February 7th, in Wapello County. Dye gave a look into what his testimony against Yenger could be during his statement to the court at his appearance.
“I rode with somebody who filled up a beer bottle full of gasoline,” Dye stated. “Drove out to the home and I witnessed him throw the beer bottle into the house.”
Dye will face sentencing in the Wapello County courthouse on April 10th at 1:30PM.