OTTUMWA-Testimony continued on Thursday, February 9th in the 1st Degree Murder Trial of Chris Yenger.
First on the stand was James Lyon. Lyon lived near the Huffman residence, where the fire took place. He passed the burning home early morning March 5th, 2006 and pulled over to try to help and call 911. Lyon event attempted to enter the home to save victims Seth Anderson and Nate Messer. However, he wasn’t able to get far due to the heat inside the house.
Retired Special Agent for the State Fire Marshal’s Office, Jeffrey Schatzer testified next. He explained pictures from the scene of the fire and described the discovery of the two victims’ bodies. He also described the investigation into the fire.
Former Iowa Medical Examiner Dr. Julia Goodin testified that she conducted the autopsies of both Anderson and Messer. During her detailed testimony, which included autopsy photos, the families and friends of both victims excused themselves from the courtroom.
Jeramiah Gillespie testified that in 2014, Yenger confessed to intentionally starting a fire that killed two young men. The confession allegedly came after Gillespie was looking for help in committing some illegal activities. He first contacted authorities to make them aware of this when he was facing criminal charges and was hoping the information would earn him a better plea deal than the one he had already been offered. During testimony Gillespie did confirm that he was using methamphetamine at the time Yenger allegedly confessed to him.
Zachary Dye was the other man charged with murder in the fire. He took the stand to testify against Yenger as part of a plea agreement. He claims that Yenger returned to the house during the early morning hours after the party seeking revenge for a fight where he received a bloody nose. He says the defendant filled a beer bottle with gasoline and created a Molotov cocktail. This is what he then used to throw at the home and ignite the fire.
An early recess was taken because a scheduled witness was sick. Court will resume at 8:45 Friday morning the 10th.
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