Hansen murder trial beginsOpening arguments this afternoon in fatal shooting case
The jury was chosen in the trial involving Thomas Lee Hansen Tuesday morning. Jury selection lasted all day Monday and was finally complete Tuesday at about 11:15 a.m.
The jury consists of 12 members plus two alternates. The original jury pool consisted of 57 people. Presiding Judge Joel Yates instructed the jury not to attempt to learn anything about the case outside of the courtroom for the duration of the trial.
Jurors are not supposed to discuss the case with anyone during the trial, either. Jurors are instructed not to talk about the case until they go into deliberation, after hearing the evidence and the arguments made by the prosecution and the defense.
The court went into recess just before 11:30 a.m. and reconvened in the afternoon at 1:15 p.m.
Hansen, 72, is charged with the first-degree murder of Sharon Kay Gerot, 54. Gerot was found dead May 1, 2011, outside 1355 Deer Run Drive south of Riverside. Gerot and Hansen were living together at that residence at the time. The two were engaged to be married.
Representing the prosecution are Washington County Attorney Larry Brock and Assistant Attorney General Andy Prosser.
Hansen is represented by public defenders John Robertson and Dennis Cohen.
Prosser and Robertson were also on opposite sides of a trial in Washington County nearly two years ago in January 2011. James Blum was charged with the second-degree murder of his wife, Patricia Blum.
Prosser was one of two attorneys general who prosecuted that case on behalf of the state of Iowa, while Robertson defended Blum. Blum was ultimately found guilty and sentenced to 50 years in prison.
According to the affidavit of Washington County Investigator Chad Ellis, Hansen made statements to law enforcement indicating he had shot Gerot and that he had been arguing with Gerot “on and off” on May 1, 2011. Ellis wrote in his affidavit that Hansen shot Gerot while she was riding a lawn mower in an open field behind the residence.
Robertson plans to argue that Hansen’s actions were justified because they were a form of defense. This defense can include self-defense, defense of others, defense of property and defense against forcible felony.
Iowa Code Chapter 704.3 states that a person is justified in the use of reasonable force when the person reasonably believes that such force is necessary to defend oneself or another from any imminent use of unlawful force.
“Reasonable force is that force and no more which a reasonable person, in like circumstances, would judge to be necessary to prevent an injury or loss and can include deadly force if it is reasonable to believe that such force is necessary to avoid injury or risk to one's life or safety or the life or safety of another, or it is reasonable to believe that such force is necessary to resist a like force or threat,” the code states.
The code states that “deadly force” can include force used for the purpose of causing serious injury or force which the actor knows or reasonably should know will create a strong probability that serious injury will result.