KNOXVILLE — The state of Iowa rested Friday morning in the first-degree murder trial against Michelle Boat.
Whether Boat will testify is a matter yet to be resolved. The jury was sent home until 9 a.m. Monday while the judge and attorneys work out jury instructions.
Defendants have the option of whether or not to testify. She was the only possible witness identified by defense attorneys ahead of the trial.
Michelle Boat, 56, of Pella, is on trial for first-degree murder in Marion County. The charge stems from the May 18, 2020 death of 46-year-old Tracy Mondabough, of Ottumwa, in Pella.
Mondabough was the girlfriend of Michelle Boat's estranged husband Nicholas Boat. The two had been married for 20 years, but had separated in March 2020.
Investigators told the jury that Michelle Boat stalked Mondabough in Pella that day, before following her to 101 Glenwood Street where the two got into an altercation. During that altercation, Michelle Boat fatally stabbed Mondabough.
Defense attorneys spent little time cross-examining the state's witnesses after they openly admitted Michelle Boat killed Mondabough that day.
Instead, their strategy has been to say the crime committed was not first-degree murder, but rather a voluntary manslaughter. While juries do not determine the punishment in criminal cases, it would be the difference between Michelle Boat spending the rest of her life in prison, and a maximum sentence of 10 years.
After testimony concluded and the jury was sent home Friday, defense attorney Trevor Andersen motioned for judgment of acquittal, saying the state failed to prove the required elements of premeditation and that Michelle Boat acted with malice aforethought.
Judge Patrick Greenwood after considering the motion said there was enough evidence to warrant denying the motion, and proceeding with the case.
Prosecutors, who bear the burden in proving their case, called 12 witnesses to the stand over less than five hours in the courtroom between Thursday and Friday.
Those called included neighbors who witnessed the commotion, investigators, a medical examiner and crime lab analysts.
On Friday, testimony brought in more details that investigators say further tie Michelle Boat and outline the premeditation required for a first-degree murder conviction.
Tara Scott, a criminalist with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation that helped process the crime scene, said investigators found a calendar in Michelle Boat's home that had been marked for each day her husband Nicholas Boat had been estranged.
Dr. Kelly Kruse, from the Iowa State Medical Examiner's Office that performed an autopsy on Mondabough, said there were injuries consistent with a struggle on Mondabough's body. The cause of death was multiple sharp force injuries, and the manner of death was ruled a homicide. The fatal stab wound was one through Mondabough's left breast, which went into her heart.
Karl Franzenberg, who was a trace examiner at the DCI Crime Lab, said he determined a fingertip of a rubber glove that had been torn and found in Mondabough's vehicle matched a glove with a missing fingertip found at Boat's home. In response to a question from Boat's attorney Jill Eimermann, Franzenberg said he could not determine how or when the glove was torn.
Chris Spencer, a DCI special agent, said investigators located a silver neckless from the windshield of Boat's silver Cadillac. Hair on the necklace matched the DNA profile of Mondabough, said Ryan Petruccelli, a DNA analyst from the DCI Crime Lab.
Petruccelli said hairs recovered in the Cadillac, blood on the passenger-side mirror of the Cadillac, and the glove found in a toilet tank of Boat's home all contained DNA matching Mondabough's profile. A hair investigators collected from the steering wheel of the truck Mondabough was found in matched the DNA profile of Boat, Petruccelli said.
The last witness called by the state introduced a voicemail left by Boat to Nicholas Boat. Reed Kious, at the time a detective with the Marion County Sheriff's Office, said he used a Cellebrite machine and retrieve a voicemail left by Boat. The jury heard Boat say, "she messed with the wrong momma." The voicemail was left at 8:07 p.m. March 14, 2020.
A jury of eight women and six men are hearing the case. Two of them are alternates that will be dismissed before deliberations begin.