‘I just couldn’t take anymore’Thomas Hansen murder trial enters second day with state witnesses
The prosecution rested its case Wednesday morning in the trial of Thomas Lee Hansen, 72, who is on trial for the first-degree murder of Sharon Kay Gerot, 54, in Washington County. The state called seven witnesses to testify.
Iowa State Trooper Allen Konecne was on duty May 1, 2011, the day Sharon Kay Gerot was found dead outside 1355 Deer Run Drive south of Riverside. The 911 call was made at 3:43 p.m., and Konecne arrived at the scene shortly after 4 p.m. He and other responding officers handcuffed Hansen, who was outside his house on the north lawn.
Konecne said that as he and a deputy were escorting Hansen to a squad car, Hansen said, “I just couldn’t take it anymore.” Konecne said Hansen appeared to be talking to a group of people who had gathered on 135th Street north of the house.
Konecne entered the house and saw a .40 caliber pistol lying on the kitchen counter by the sliding glass doors that lead to the deck on the west side of the house.
Jagat Sandhu, a special agent with the Department of Criminal Investigation, testified about the evidence he collected at the home of Hansen and Gerot. Sandhu took photos of the home and of the body in the backyard. He placed yellow markers on the ground where blood had fallen.
Sandhu said the blood splotches on the ground were in a circle and appeared to follow the path of the tractor as it was turning. He said he looked for an expended bullet in the yard but did not find one.
In the kitchen Sandhu photographed the .40 caliber pistol that Konecne testified about that was lying on the counter. Sandhu also photographed a spent shell casing on the floor to the north, which would be to a person’s right who was in the kitchen looking west through the sliding doors. Sandhu said the .40 caliber ejects shells to the right.
Victor Murillo, a criminologist with the state laboratory in Ankeny, testified that he compared that shell to shells that he test-fired from the .40 caliber pistol, and determined that the shells came from the same gun. He said he determined this by looking at the microscopic markings the gun’s firing pin leaves on the shells.
Murillo said the .40 caliber has a heavy trigger pull compared to other handguns, meaning that it takes more force to fire the weapon. Assistant Attorney General Andy Prosser asked him if this meant that the shooter would have to be more determined to hit his target, and Murillo said that was correct.
Sandhu said he did not collect any DNA or fingerprint evidence at the scene because he said he did not need to find the perpetrator. He said on cross examination that he talked with other law enforcement officers who told him the shooter had already been apprehended.
Sandhu found a .22 caliber handgun in the bedroom, although there was no magazine in it and Sandhu could not find a magazine for it anywhere in the house. Sandhu found a .30-30 rifle under the master bed.
In the garage, Sandhu found a tote containing a holster that appeared to be for the .40 caliber pistol since he put the pistol in the holster and it fit. In that same tote, Sandhu found a black case containing magazines for the .40 caliber pistol.
Sandhu filmed the discovery of these items on a videotape which was shown to the jury.
Also testifying for the prosecution was Marcus Nashelsky, a physician at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics who performed Gerot’s autopsy on May 2, 2011. Nashelsky said Gerot died from a gunshot wound to the head and concluded that the manner of her death was a homicide, which means it came at the hands of another person.
Iowa State Patrol trooper Jonah Grier testified about his portion of the investigation, which consisted of measuring distances between items at the scene. He measured the distance between where the tractor came to rest and the deck to be 69 feet.
Washington County Ambulance paramedic Brian Eveleth testified that when he approached Gerot that afternoon she had no pulse in either her wrist or her neck, and that she was dead by the time the paramedics got to her.