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The second-day story, with your help. Call Gazette reporter Adam Belz at (319) 398-8273 or e-mail him: adam.belz@gazcomm.com

Would-be midnight intruder gets seven days

Daniel Kvidahl, the man who has been scaring the dickens out of his neighbor over the past six months by trying to get into her home in the middle of the night, will serve six days and six hours in jail after pleading guilty to criminal trespass and public intoxication for a March 31 incident.

Kvidahl was sentenced this morning at a brief court proceeding in the basement of the Palmer Building, 123 Fifth St. SE.

Sara Marino, a divorced mother of two who lives next door to Kvidahl, testified before the sentencing, with Kvidahl sitting a few feet away. The criminal justice system has not been able to keep him from repeatedly acting in a way that seems threatening, she said.

“I would like to have him just stay away,” she said. “He scares me. He scares my kids.”

Kvidahl scoffed at this, and his lawyer touched his arm to restrain him.

Linn County Attorney Nick Scott sought the seven-day jail sentence and a substance abuse evaluation.

“There’s an opportunity for the court to make an impression on the defendant as to the seriousness of the offense,” Scott said. “This is inappropriate behavior, and it should not continue.”

Kvidahl admitted having a problem with alcohol, and said he’s taking medication and attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

He said he thought Marino’s house was his own, and tried to enter by mistake, because he was drunk. (It’s worth mentioning here that Marino and Kvidahl have quite different front doors. She has a covered porch, with a few wooden steps up to it. He has no porch, but only a cement pad almost at ground level.)

“I really, really, truly never meant to do no harm,” Kvidahl said. “Anything I have done, I’m truly, truly sorry.”

But he and his attorney argue he shouldn’t be sentenced to jail time. He never has before, in three separate instances where he was arrested on Marino’s property. He said The Gazette’s report about what has transpired between him and Marino, and the embarrassment it caused, has been punishment enough.

“The embarrassment and all the things that I’ve been through is like a punishment in itself,” he said.

The judge, Magistrate Lorraine Machacek, gave Kvidahl the jail sentence prosecutors asked for, citing “some indication” that Kvidahl’s behavior has been repeated and his “extensive criminal history.”

“I quite frankly can’t imagine anything more frightening than to have someone enter my house uninvited when they’re under the influence of alcohol,” she said.

Kvidahl will serve his jail sentence in chunks on weekends.

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Filed under: Courts, , , , , , ,

Woman terrified after man’s second criminal trespass charge on her property

I met a woman on Friday who is scared of her neighbor. Since he moved in next door in December, she says he has tried to get into her house at least three times.

The problem is she can’t get a restraining order because she has no relationship with him. And police have charged him with criminal trespass, a simple misdemeanor, twice, in addition to several public intoxication charges.

I’m leaving out names for now, but I wonder if any other woman has had this problem, where she feels threatened by a man she doesn’t know personally, but has no recourse for separating herself from him in any significant, lasting way.

According to police:

In January, a little after 11 p.m., the woman heard someone knocking on the door and jiggling the door handle. (She has two small children.) Police came, charged the neighbor with public intoxication, and issued him a warning to stay off her property.

Then in March, she heard someone knocking on the door after 12:30 a.m. She thought it was her neighbor, and called police. When they arrived, he was asleep on her front porch. He was arrested for public intox and charged with criminal trespass as well because he had been warned in January to stay off her property.

In early May, a little after 4 p.m., she called police and told them her neighbor had tried to walk into her home. When police arrived, the neighbor was in a verbal argument with the woman’s landlord. He was charged again with criminal trespass. Police went back out there four hours later and looked to see if the lock on the screen door was actually broken, because she said he had broken it to get in. It was broken.

The man has already pled guilty to criminal trespass, criminal mischief for the lock and interference with official acts for the May incident. He wasn’t charged with anything more than criminal mischief because in order to charge someone with burglary, police have to prove intent to steal something or hurt somebody.

The March incident is going to trial, and yesterday, after I talked to the county attorney’s office (could be coincidence) the prosecutor filed a notice stating intent to seek jail time on the first criminal trespass charge.

One of the only ways for prosecutors to raise the stakes on this stuff is to charge the man with stalking, which requires that he has established a “course of conduct … that would cause a reasonable person to fear bodily injury.”

It requires two or more instances. So there are already two instances, but no stalking charge.

As a commenter pointed out on http://www.gazetteonline.com, here’s what one lady did to solve a more serious problem.

Let me know if you have any thoughts on this. A comment would be good, so would an e-mail: adam.belz@gazcomm.com

Filed under: Courts, Public Safety, , , , , , ,

Iowa Public Radio looking for C.R. correspondent

Iowa Public Radio News Director Jonathan Ahl makes some corrections to this blog entry in a comment below.

Anyone who listens to Iowa Public Radio with any regularity knows that the local news report in Eastern Iowa consists almost entirely of two things: Someone reads newspaper headlines aloud and Jeneane Beck, apparently IPR’s only reporter (yes, there is/was a guy named Rob Dillard, too), contributes earnest dispatches mostly from Des Moines.

I am an avid public radio listener. I genuinely depend on Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Marketplace. I even think The Exchange, IPR’s opinion talk show, is quite good. My only complaint with the radio station (here it’s 90.9 FM) is the local news. They always seems to break in on good music to announce that some guy will be performing at the Gallagher Bluedorn, and it appears to consist only of the aforementioned out-loud-headline-reading and occasional reports from the state legislature. I just would rather not hear from the studio if that’s all they have to offer.

So I’m glad to hear that Iowa Public Radio wants to hire a reporter for its “Cedar Rapids bureau.” I knew of no such bureau, but if it’s in the works, that’s great. What matters is that IPR appears to be expanding its news coverage. Here’s the job description if any of you citizen journalists out there have radio experience and are interested.

Filed under: Courts, , ,

Oct. 1 still target date for courthouse

It’s a little more than a month until Linn County officials hope to restore some court operations to the courthouse on May’s Island. The building, built in 1919, was damaged in June flooding.

Linn County IT Director Phil Lowder told the supervisors this morning that he expects phones, Internet and other IT stuff to be ready for the county attorney’s office at the county courthouse on Sept. 15.

Other obstacles to getting court operations going again at the courthouse are, according to Mike Goldberg: clearance on the elevators, the fire protection system, access for people with disabilities, card access wiring and the heating and cooling system.

Contractors are working on all those things.

Target date is still Oct. 1. In order to move court operations back in by then, the contractors need to be done by Sept. 15, Linn County Constructions Services Manager Garth Fagerbakke said.

A crew of custodians will go into the courthouse on Tuesday to begin cleaning.

“Things are actually starting to move along,” Fagerbakke said.

Filed under: County Government, Courts, Flood, , ,

Eastern Iowa’s war crimes prosecutor back to visit Tuesday

Stephen Rapp, chief prosecutor of the United Nations-backed war crimes tribunal in Sierra Leone, is going to speak at 12:40 p.m. tomorrow in Room 115 of the Boyd Building at the UI College of Law.

It’s free and open to the public. If you live in Iowa City and can make it, it would be worth your time.

Rapp was the U.S. Attorney for the northern federal judicial district of Iowa from 1993 to 2001, and went on to become one of the foremost war crimes prosecutors in the world. He prosecuted war crimes in Rwanda before he took over the case in Sierra Leone, a tiny West African nation that was ravaged by brutal civil war in the 1990s.

He and his wife Dolly Maier Rapp — a UNI professor — still have a home in Waterloo, but Stephen Rapp spends several months each year in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone. The key defendant in the prosecution is Charles Taylor, the former president of Liberia, who is accused of orchestrating some of the worst atrocities (rape, murder, mutilation, forcing children to fight) in the conflict.

I was in Freetown when another defendant in the case, Foday Sankoh, was still imprisoned. That was in 2001. Sankoh died in 2003. I remember the soldiers standing on those weirdly empty streets around the prison where they kept him. They were holding machine guns, and nobody went even close.

(Yeah, I know, wikipedia’s not reliable. But it gives a rough idea of things.)

Filed under: Courts, , , , , ,

It’s too hot in here, Miell says

The infamous landlord Robert K. Miell wants a change of venue for his federal criminal trial, on that old argument that the publicity surrounding his case has been too extensive and corrupting for him to receive a fair trial here in Cedar Rapids.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office thinks his argument is pretty flimsy, because what they’re accusing him of happened five years ago, and because media coverage of his case (the stories in the Gazette) has been pretty darn good. (They don’t say that exactly, but it’s the basic idea.)

Miell also wants a new judge for the trial, because U.S. District Chief Judge Linda Reade’s husband works for the law firm that represented the insurance company that was the victim in the civil trial that ended in January with Miell paying up to a $1.5 million judgment.

The connection is tenuous, the U.S. Attorney’s Office says, but the point of the hearing earlier today was for Miell’s attorney John Lane to ask Reade to “recuse,” or excuse, herself from the case.

On the face of it, Reade doesn’t see how her husband’s involvement in that law firm causes a conflict for her. But the judge, who is renowned in our newsroom for her toughness, said she’d check around and get back to the lawyers in a few weeks. 

Filed under: Courts

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