OTTUMWA — The murder trial of Jacob Heckethorn began Wednesday morning.
Prosecutors accused Heckethorn of shooting and killing William Shettlesworth during a fight in August 2018. He’s been charged with first-degree murder, which carries a life sentence in Iowa.
Dustin Greene, who was involved in the incident, was the first to testify.
The prosecution and defense agreed on the same basic narrative: Greene got in a fight with another man, Eric Fountain, and Heckethorn intervened with a rifle. During the incident, Shettlesworth, a friend of Greene, was killed. Everything took place outside Greene’s home, and Fountain and Heckethorn arrived and left together.
However, the two sides disagreed over how the fight began. Fountain and Greene disliked one another, and the defense said Greene invited Fountain over in order to ambush him with Shettlesworth and another individual.
Greene admitted to texting Fountain, but said his text was a warning rather than an invitation. He wanted Fountain to stay away from his girlfriend, who Fountain had been romantically involved with in the past. Greene said he, his girlfriend, and Shettlesworth were in his living room when he heard noise from outside.
“I heard brakes squeaking, and I seen [car] lights,” Greene said. When he stood up, he was surprised to see Fountain approaching the house. “I slipped some shoes on and went out to confront him.”
After a warning, Greene said he punched Fountain and the two began fighting. Then he heard another man say, “Have you ever seen an AR-15 before?” and said he saw Heckethorn across the street, aiming a rifle at him from behind a car. The two had never met before that night.
While the defense said Heckethorn’s first shot was in the air, Greene said the first bullet shattered a window beside him, and more came as he ran back inside. He grabbed a gun from his closet, and as he headed back, saw Shettlesworth outside with his hands in the air.
Greene said Heckethorn shot Shettlesworth while he had his hands in the air, and after Shettlesworth had said something along the lines of “Hey, I’m not a part of this.”
The defense contends Greene shot Shettlesworth in self-defense. The bullet struck Shettlesworth in the top of the shoulder, which would have been difficult if his hands were in the air.
The defense also said Greene had been unable to pick Heckethorn out of a photo lineup less than an hour after the incident had taken place. However, Greene said he had been in a state of shock, which made identification difficult.
Heckethorn has also been charged with the attempted murder of Greene. That trial isn’t scheduled to begin until February 2020.