DENISON, Iowa — A scrap-metal theft became a double murder case when the thieves were confronted while trying to get away, a prosecutor said Thursday.
Iowa Assistant Attorney General Douglas Hammerand described the events Thursday afternoon during opening statements in the trial of Michael David Schenk in Crawford County District Court.
Schenk, 26, and a co-defendant Jayden Ray Chapman, 19, both of Denison, are charged with two counts of first-degree murder and one count of first-degree arson in the March 10 deaths of Marvin Huelsing, 80, of Maple River, and Alice Huisenga, 81, of Arcadia, at Huelsing’s property between Deloit and Denison.
Schenk and Chapman both pleaded not guilty. Chapman’s trial is scheduled for April 28.
In a plea agreement, charges against a third defendant, Erika Marlys Dains, 37, of Denison, were reduced to one count each of second-degree burglary and accessory after the fact. Dains agreed to testify as the prosecution’s witness in Schenk’s and Chapman’s trials, if called.
Jury selection in Schenk’s trial was completed Thursday.
In his opening statement, Hammerand told jurors the evidence would show the details of what happened March 10. After the theft of the scrap metal on Huelsing’s property, he said, Schenk’s truck got stuck in the mud. Huelsing and Huisenga arrived, and Huelsing said, “Call the sheriff.”
A single-shot, bolt-action .22 rifle was fired multiple times, killing Huelsing and Huisenga.
Hammerand said Dains will testify that Schenk told her, “I shot him. I had no choice.”
He added that the evidence would also show that Schenk entered a farm trailer carrying two gas cans, and after he emerged with the gas cans, the trailer was engulfed in flames.
Hammerand said the evidence may not show who pulled the trigger, but the rifle had to be loaded each time after it was fired, and Schenk and Chapman had time to think before they shot and killed Huelsing and Huisenga.
Schenk’s attorney, Michael Williams, asked the jurors to “keep an open mind. It’s going to be very difficult.”