OTTUMWA — A man serving a prison sentence for murder and assault will stay there, an appeals court ruled Wednesday.

Jacob Haze Heckethorn appealed his convictions for second-degree murder and assault with intent to inflict serious injury. He argued there was insufficient evidence to support the convictions, but the Iowa Appeals Court disagreed.

The case surrounds a shooting on Aug. 23, 2018, where William Shettlesworth died and another person, Dustin Greene, was shot at. According to the case record, Heckethorn had spent the day using methamphetamine, driving around, shooting guns and hanging out with friends.

Eventually, Heckethorn landed at Greene's home after the ex-girlfriend of one of his friends was said to be there.

A confrontation ensued, and court filings say Heckethorn retrieved an AR-15 from the vehicle and began firing. Ultimately, he shot at least two rounds at Shettlesworth, with one being a fatal shot.

At trial, Heckethorn claimed he intended the initial shots to scare and claimed self defense that Shettlesworth began to come toward him.

He was originally charged with first-degree murder, but after deliberations a jury returned a guilty verdict for second-degree murder. The jury also lowered the original attempted murder charge to assault with intent to commit serious injury.

The appeals court ruled the record would support the jury not believing Heckethorn's self-defense argument, and thus find him guilty of the killing. The appeals court ruled Iowa's stand-your-ground law does not apply to this case.

Following the verdict, Heckethorn was sentenced to 52 years in prison total, with a requirement to serve at least 70 percent of the sentence relating to the murder conviction.

Heckethorn still awaits judgment on charges of attempted murder and assault relating to another shooting from Aug. 16, 2018. A court filing on Monday indicated the parties are involved in plea negotiations in that case.

Kyle Ocker is the editor of the Ottumwa Courier and the Oskaloosa Herald. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @Kyle_Ocker.


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Kyle Ocker is a Centerville native and award-winning multimedia journalist. Kyle is currently the president of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council and vice president of the Iowa Print Sports Writers Association.

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