At the Le Mars murder trial, the wife testified after seeing her husband, Tom Knapp, shoot his son.crime and court

Nick Hytrek

Le Mars, Iowa — Darlene Knapp knew her husband was angry when he returned home.

Darlene Knapp said the raccoon probably knocked it over, but she I knew that Tom would likely blame his son, Kevin Juzek, for living in the basement.

Darlene Knapp said, “We were probably blaming both of us,” testifying that her husband didn’t like Juzek staying at home, but there was no physical confrontation between them “I don’t think he liked Kevin at all.”

Minutes later, Juzek is dead on the living room floor, shot twice by Tom Knapp after Juzek intervenes to stop the assault on Darlene.

Knapp, 84, pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and willful bodily injury in the May 11, 2020 shooting of his son-in-law Juzek, 51, in Plymouth County District Court. Knapp is also charged with willful bodily injury and domestic assault charges for assaulting Darlene before the shooting. If convicted of first-degree murder, Knapp faces life in prison without parole.

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Knapp is accused of shooting Juzek with a 20-gauge shotgun through his bedroom door, hitting him in the abdomen, and then shooting him again at point-blank range in his chest on the living room floor.

Darlene Knapp testified that her husband punched her in the face at least twice when she brought him fresh water. raised to He then hit her at least twice with a wooden exercise stick that resembled her broomstick. One blow broke Darlene’s finger on her left hand as he tried to defend her.

Juzek came to the door and Darlene said, and she hid under Tom and left the bedroom. I didn’t hear the first gunshot.

“Kevin came out and said Tom shot him in the stomach,” she said.

Juzek fell to the floor and got up.

“Then Tom came out and he kicked Kevin’s leg and said, ‘You mean he’s not dead yet?’ Then he shot him in the chest,” said Darlene. “Kevin was completely upset. When (Tom) pointed the gun at him, (Kevin) said ‘no’ and that was Kevin’s last words.”

“I will never forget it. It is in my heart.”

Darlene Knapp said that when Tom left the house, he pointed a gun at her and chased her.

“I was scared of being shot in the back,” she said.

Darlene, who was able to escape, called 911 again from outside, and police soon arrived while Tom Knapp remained inside the house.

Knapp’s lawyers say his actions were justified and he shot Juzek in self-defense.

In a recording of Knapp’s interview with investigators that was played Thursday for jurors, Knapp said Darlene threatened her with a stick, which he took from her and beat her. , told lawmakers that Juzek was yelling at him from outside his bedroom.

Then-retired Plymouth County Sheriff Mike Van Otterloo responded to the shooting and spoke with Tom Knapp, who was sitting in the backseat of the police car. Afterwards, he asked Knapp why he shot his son-in-law.

“Because he was attacking me,” Knapp said in a video recording of a conversation made for the jury. , and was trying to hit me.”

On Thursday, jurors heard Knapp’s other recordings and even told investigators that Juzek had deliberately used some kind of electronic device to annoy him and keep Knapp awake during the night.

Darlene Knapp testified that she never heard her husband (they are now divorced) complaining about the noise.

At the end of her testimony, Plymouth County Attorney Darrin Raymond put his case to rest after a day and a half of eyewitness testimony and evidence.

After speaking briefly with Knapp privately, public defender Wendy Samuelson dropped the defense’s case without seeking testimony from Knapp or other witnesses.

The trial will resume Tuesday morning with closing arguments from attorneys before the case goes to a jury.


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