The double first-degree murder trial in the 31-year-old Copper Dollar Ranch homicide case will not be held in Jasper County.
During a pretrial conference Wednesday morning, Judge Terry Rickers said there would be “substantial prejudice” against 54-year-old Theresa Lynn “Terri” Supino if her trial were held in the Newton or Des Moines areas.
“After reviewing that information, the court agrees there would be substantial prejudice if it were to be tried in Jasper County,” Rickers said. “This case has been a source of notoriety for several years.”
In making their request for a change of venue, Supino’s attorneys, Steven Addington and Jill Eimermann, provided the court with a copy of the “Cold Justice” episode that aired March 28 and chronicled the show’s investigation of the murders as well as Supino’s arrest by local authorities. They also submitted several articles by the Newton Daily News and Des Moines Register as well as segments from Des Moines television stations.
Although Jasper County Attorney Mike Jacobsen initially filed a motion resisting the change of venue in July, Addington said he and Jacobsen agreed the defense would win the motion.
Jacobsen asked that consideration be given to the victims’ families when choosing a new location for the trial, which is expected to last approximately three weeks and is tentatively planned for some time between mid-January and the end of February. Rickers said he would inform the attorneys once an available location is found.
The bodies of Supino’s estranged husband, 20-year-old Steven J. Fisher, and his girlfriend, 17-year-old Melisa L. Gregory, were found the morning of March 3, 1983, at the former Copper Dollar Ranch, located about four miles northwest of Newton. Both appeared to have been attacked with an unknown weapon, initially thought to be a large caliber firearm.
Autopsies performed on the victims the day their bodies were found indicated both died as a result of multiple “chop wounds” — 13 to Fisher’s head and 17 to Gregory’s face and head — inflicted by a heavy-edged instrument. Steven also had a fracture to his lower sternum and abrasions to his groin.
Both Fisher and Gregory also had bruising and cuts to their arms and hands, and neither had alcohol or illegal narcotics in their systems at the time of their deaths.
Supino was arrested March 3, on the 31st anniversary of Fisher and Gregory’s deaths, at her home in Altoona. She is being held in the Jasper County Jail on a $300,000 bond and is scheduled to appear in court for another pretrial conference at 9:30 a.m. Dec. 1.
Contact Associate Editor Mandi Lamb at (641) 792-3121 ext. 6531 or firstname.lastname@example.org.