OTTUMWA — The two men charged in connection with an August 2018 shootout in Ottumwa will be tried together.
Dalton Cook and Michael Bibby face charges of first-degree robbery, first-degree burglary, willful injury and 10 counts of attempted murder. Judge Lucy Gamon granted a prosecution request to try them at the same time, ruling the request met the requirements under state law for a joint trial.
Prosecutors have said in court filings that Cook and Bibby went with another man to an Ottumwa home as part of a robbery in which the resident was shot. They fled, then shot at police when they were spotted near Liberty Elementary School. The third man was killed when police returned fire.
Bibby’s attorney did file a resistance to the state’s motion but did not offer details in the one-sentence filing.
Gamon said in her ruling that a request for a joint trial must ensure that no defendant is put at a serious disadvantage, the defendants were part of a joint crime or scheme to commit a crime, and that there is good cause to try the defendants at the same time.
In this case, Gamon found that “these two defendants are facing identical charges concerning the same incident on the same date, and in the same location. Their alleged culpability is the same; they are facing the same consequences for their alleged actions. Under these circumstances, the defendants will not be unduly prejudiced by combining their cases for trial.”
Prosecutors said in their motion that the concept of judicial economy, saving time and effort for the court as well as numerous witnesses who would testify against both defendants, also supported a joint trial. Gamon agreed, finding that the charges are identical and that prosecutors expect to call “almost half of the officers in the Ottumwa Police Department as well as multiple officers from the Wapello County Sheriff’s Office” as witnesses.
Gamon also found measures being taken to slow the spread of COVID-19 also supported a joint trial:
“In considering the role of judicial economy, the Court further considers the unusual and unforeseeable effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on the court’s schedule, which will cause a trial backlog of several months, and result in many trials, including some with speedy demands, needing to be tried within a short time span.”
The hearing was held remotely due to concerns about the pandemic.