WATERLOO – Jurors acquitted a Waterloo teen in the final verdict to be handed down in connection with the 2016 shooting that claimed the life of Otavious Brown.
After a week of deliberations and the replacement of one panelist who left for vacation, the jury reached its verdict shortly after returning to the courtroom Tuesday, finding Armand Isavia Anthony Rollins Jr., 18, not guilty of all charges.
Defense attorney Melissa Anderson-Seeber, who represented Rollins, said she was pleased with the verdict.
“This is one of the most conscientious, hardest working jury panels I have ever had,” she said.
Tuesday’s verdict came after jurors Friday announced they found 17-year-old Doncorrion Deangelo Spates guilty of first-degree murder, attempted murder and intimidation with a weapon and acquitted Shavondes Martin, 22.
Prosecutors said the three were in an SUV and opened fire on a group of people outside 817 Logan Ave. on July 17, 2016, killing Brown, 21, and injuring Dewon Campbell Jr. and Aundrey Roberts Jr.
The driver, Jacques Williamson, 26, earlier pleaded guilty to reduced charges of intimidation with a weapon in the case as part of an agreement to testify. He faces up to 10 years in prison.
Brown’s stepfather, Raymond Birden Sr., followed the trial and was in the courtroom during the verdicts. He said he misses Otavious’ laughter and is disappointed in the outcome but harbors no ill feelings for the three who were charged.
“I know everyone thinks I’m supposed to be bitter and upset ... but we have to accept the outcome and pray for better days for everyone,” Birden said. “The two that got out, I wish them well and pray they become productive young men in society … that they find peace in their lives and find Jesus Christ.”
He said his heart goes out to Spates’ mother.
Birden said he feels all who were charged should have received some punishment.
“There is nothing that can bring Otavious back, but we can lead better lives, treat people better, respect one another and learn how to love each other. I hope out of all of this — from the murder, the trial, the two men being acquitted — we learn that life has meaning,” he said.
Since losing his stepson, Birden has started working with Rev. Willie Campbell at Crystal Cathedral of Faith Southern Baptist Church on Hammond Avenue to provide a better path for area youths. They came up with a program called Boys to Men, which meets at noon every Saturday and is geared for ages 7 to 17 — the age range that included two of the people charged in the Logan Avenue shooting.
There is a meal and exercises and programs designed to teach young men to make good decisions.
Birden said Doncorrion Spates’ mother and stepfather met with him following Friday’s verdict, and they attended the Boys to Men program Saturday.
Martin was released from jail following his acquittal Friday. He is still awaiting the outcome of a 2015 felony drug case in which police found marijuana and a scale during a traffic stop. A hearing on the case is scheduled for later this month.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Rollins remained in jail awaiting trial for a July 2016 incident in which police found crack cocaine during a traffic stop, and a firearm charge where his fingerprint was found on a shorted .22-caliber Remington rifle during a 2015 robbery at a Cherry Street home.
DES MOINES (AP) — Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds on Tuesday released a plan that would reduce individual income taxes in Iowa by $1.7 billion by 2023, though it’s unclear if members of her party are completely on board as they seek additional changes and other cuts.
The proposal comes as the GOP-controlled Legislature considers mid-year spending cuts to agencies and higher education amid lower-than-expected revenue to the state’s roughly $7.2 billion state budget. The governor announced her plan via email, saying it will help a wide range of people.
“My plan combines meaningful tax relief while protecting our budget priorities,” Reynolds said. “We’ve prioritized tax relief for middle class taxpayers, small business owners, teachers and working families across the state. We’re long past due for real tax reform that simplifies and updates our system while allowing Iowans to keep more of their hard-earned money in their communities.”
The proposal would lower tax rates over several years and reduce tax brackets from nine to eight, according to a 107-page bill. It would also phase out a system, known as federal deductibility, which has allowed Iowans to deduct what they pay in federal income taxes from state tax liability.
Reynolds’ staff said extra state revenue from the federal tax overhaul will partially offset the cuts. Other changes to the state’s sales and use tax, including expanding some online sales, will play a role. Preliminary data shows the state will need to address shortfalls in future years.
It’s unclear when the measure will move through the chambers, though some GOP lawmakers offered initial support.
“House Republicans are ready to work with Governor Reynolds to reform Iowa’s outdated and complex tax code,” said House Speaker Linda Upmeyer. “We look forward to making it simpler, fairer and more competitive for all Iowans.”
Other Republicans indicated the plan will go through revisions. Sen. Randy Feenstra, of Hull, chairs a powerful tax-writing committee in the Senate. He called Reynolds’ bill a “wonderful start” and indicated he would introduce legislation with additional changes, including corporate tax cuts.
“It’s part of a framework that we can use to continue to build out,” he said of the governor’s plan.
Democrats, who have no legislative power this session, said they’re reviewing the bill. Rep. Dave Jacoby, a Coralville Democrat who is a ranking member on the tax-writing committee in the House, offered skepticism via a statement. He compared the situation to Kansas, a state where Republicans cut taxes a few years ago. Republicans there reversed some of those cuts last year after lagging state revenue.
“We can’t afford another tax plan that will make the state’s budget crisis even worse,” Jacoby warned.
Reynolds’ staff said the proposal includes revenue targets that will act as a “safeguard” if there’s a downturn in the economy. Another provision would accelerate tax cuts if there’s significant economic growth. An analysis from a key nonpartisan agency isn’t available yet.