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Guilty verdict handed down in Westgate infant death trial
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Guilty verdict handed down in Westgate infant death trial

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Dean Alan Hettinger, right, enters the courtroom for a hearing in Fayette County District Court in West Union on Sept. 9, 2019.

WEST UNION – A jury has found a Westgate man guilty in the 2018 death of an infant he was looking after.

Jurors found Dean Alan Hettinger, 24, guilty of first-degree murder and child endangerment resulting in death Tuesday afternoon following a week of trial in Fayette County District Court in West Union.

The murder charge is punishable by a mandatory life prison sentence without parole, and sentencing will be at a later date.

Authorities said Hettinger’s then girlfriend, Alicyn Kane, was looking after 4-week-old Holton Smith after the Iowa Department of Human Services removed the child from the child’s mother nine days after birth.

Hettinger and Kane brought the child to Sumner Memorial Hospital on April 29, 2018, because he was having seizures and was unresponsive, according to court records. Holton was transferred to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City where doctors found a brain bleed. He died on May 27, 2018.

An autopsy found signs of 36 rib fractures, court records state.

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Doctors concluded the injuries were consistent with inflicted trauma.

Hettinger was arrested in May 2019.

Court records show that Hettinger was released after posting $100,000 bond in May 2020.

He was returned to jail in December 2020 after he allegedly sent threatening text messages to another ex-girlfriend, telling her, “I hope you know I truly will kill you,” and breaking her phone.

After he was jailed, he allegedly contacted a man through the jail’s text messaging system in January and had him pass a message to the ex-girlfriend.

He is currently awaiting trial on charges of first-degree harassment, criminal mischief and violation of a no-contact order.

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