MASON CITY, Iowa --- The Waterloo man charged in the April 14 stabbing death of 23-year-old Ian Decker of Mason City is expected to take the stand in his own defense Thursday.
James E. Farnsworth II, 22, is charged with first-degree murder, a Class A felony. If convicted, he faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Farnsworth’s attorney, David Roth of Waterloo, said this was a case of self-defense.
Decker was found in the 600 block of East State Street. He was pronounced dead a short time later at Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa in Mason City.
On Wednesday afternoon Roth asked for a motion of acquittal on the basis that the prosecution failed to prove Farnsworth committed murder.
Roth claimed the prosecution failed to prove that Farnsworth’s use of force was not justified.
District Judge Colleen Weiland denied the motion.
Roth was to begin the defense case Wednesday afternoon but Judge Weiland announced the proceedings would be recessed until 9 a.m. Thursday to allow the parties to work on jury instructions.
Roth said he expects his case to last about one day.
The prosecution rested its case Wednesday morning.
One of the state’s final witnesses was Mason City Police Officer Dustin Buck.
Buck testified about taking Farnsworth into custody near Godfather’s Pizza and Hy-Vee East shortly after 3 a.m. April 14.
Buck had spotted Farnsworth’s Volkswagen on East State Street twice that night prior to the report of the stabbing.
When the call came in identifying the suspect as a Waterloo man driving a Volkswagen, Buck headed toward Highway 122 thinking the suspect might be trying to go home.
He found the vehicle with its headlights off ready to make a turn from the driveway near Godfather’s Pizza and Hy-Vee East onto Highway 122.
He pulled in front of the vehicle, drew his gun and ordered Farnsworth to put his hands up.
Buck told Farnsworth to get out of the car and lie face down on the pavement.
“Mr. Farnsworth said, ‘I’m not going anywhere,’” Buck testified.
Buck handcuffed Farnsworth and searched him for any weapons.
“He said to me that the knife was in the center console of the car,” Buck testified.
Then he began to offer an explanation about the stabbing.
“He (Decker) ran at me because I am dating his ex-girlfriend, his baby’s mama,” Farnsworth said.
“I was (expletive) scared. He (Decker) didn’t stop hitting even after I fell down. He kept swinging. I am not a violent person.”
Cerro Gordo County Attorney Carlyle Dalen asked if Farnsworth said he acted in self-defense or if he asked about Decker’s condition.
Buck answered no to both questions.
He described Farnsworth as calm, cooperative and said he was providing information without being asked.
“He had a good idea what was going on,” Buck said. “He asked me what was going to happen to his car.”
Farnsworth was taken to the Mason City Police Department. But when he started to stagger and appeared dizzy, Buck called an ambulance and Farnsworth was transported to Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa for a possible head injury.
A doctor determined he was not suffering from a head injury and he was released.
Also taking the witness stand Wednesday was Dr. Julia Goodin, the state medical examiner.
Goodin testified Decker died from a stab wound to the left chest which was four to five inches deep. The wound pierced the left ventricle of his heart.
Decker was also stabbed in the left thigh and suffered a cut to his left forearm.
Witnesses said the incident started when Decker punched Farnsworth in the face. The pair struggled on the ground and Farnsworth pulled out a knife, stabbing Decker three times.
Decker and Farnsworth were fighting over a woman named Victoria Miller of Mason City.
Miller was dating Farnsworth at the time of the murder. She was also Decker’s ex-girlfriend and the mother of his 2-year-old daughter.
Miller said she met Farnsworth through an online Volkswagen car club in 2011.
The case is being heard by a jury of seven women and five men in the courtroom at the Cerro Gordo County Law Enforcement Center in Mason City.
Earlier - Witness: Farnsworth, Decker fought over woman
Tuesday 7:30 p.m. - MASON CITY, Iowa --- An altercation over a woman led to the stabbing death last April of 23-year-old Ian Decker, according to testimony from the first day of the James Farnsworth II murder trial.
Farnsworth, 22, Waterloo, is charged with first-degree murder for allegedly stabbing Decker to death in the 600 block of East State Street in Mason City on April 14, 2012.
The state's first witness Echo Dority of Mason City testified that she and her live-in boyfriend Zach Adams hosted a party at their home on April 13. The guests included Farnsworth and his girlfriend Victoria Miller. Miller was Decker's ex-girlfriend and the mother of Decker's 2-year-old daughter.
After having several drinks at their apartment at 602 East State St., the group headed to Laredo's bar about six blocks away.
At some point in the evening, Dority said Miller received a text message of a smiley face with its tongue sticking out from Decker. She said Farnsworth became very angry when he saw it.
The couple argued and Farnsworth slapped Miller across the face. Her friends came to her defense and Farnsworth left the bar before the rest of the group. They walked home from the bar.
Farnsworth caught up with them and tried to speak to Miller but she refused. Dority said she kicked Farnsworth in the groin when he wouldn't leave them alone.
Dority testifed she called Decker to tell him that Farnsworth had slapped Miller. She invited him to her apartment.
A short time after Decker arrived, Farnsworth showed up to speak with Miller.
As Miller and Farnsworth talked, Decker became angry, took off his coat and ran towards Farnsworth.
The pair fought, Farnsworth pulled a knife out of his pocket and stabbed Decker three times, according to Dority.
In his opening statement, Cerro Gordo County Attorney Carlyle Dalen said the fatal blow pierced Decker's heart. He was also stabbed in the thigh and forearm.
In cross-examination, defense attorney David Roth of Waterloo asked Dority if she was the one who told Farnsworth that Decker held a black belt in tae kwon do. She said she had. She also said Decker had a history of violent altercations including a road rage incident.
The defense is alleging Farnsworth stabbed Decker in self defense.
The case is being heard before a jury and District Judge Colleen Weiland at the Cerro Gordo County Law Enforcement Center in Mason City.
Testimony resumed at 12:35 p.m.