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Local

Altoona man set to be sentenced in Colfax man’s vehicular homicide

Michael Roney
Michael Roney

An Altoona man responsible for the death of a Colfax man in a drunk driving case will be sentenced at 9:30 a.m. April 2.

Michael D. Roney, 26, will learn of his fate from District Court Judge Richard Clogg after being found guilty March 19 of the September 2017 vehicular homicide of 27-year-old Colfax resident Jeremy C. O’Connor.

The Newton Daily News previously reported, after wrapping up the closing arguments March 19, the jury went into deliberation from 2:12 to 3:40 p.m. Roney was subsequently detained inside Jasper County Courthouse by a Jasper County Sheriff deputy at about 3:45 p.m. with 15 other onlookers.

“Nobody is suggesting that the defendant intentionally caused the death of Jeremy O’Connor. In fact, if he had intentionally caused the death of Jeremy O’Connor, we would be talking about a much different trial,” Bennett said during his closing argument. “He intentionally went down to the bar. The defendant intentionally drank a shot. The defendant intentionally consumed beer ... The defendant, instead of going home, intentionally got behind the wheel of a vehicle.”

Proceedings from March 18 included Bennett playing surveillance video of Roney’s time at the Thirsty Turtle bar in Colfax with O’Connor the night of his death. The video played until Roney and O’Connor were seen exiting the bar at about 1:47 a.m., while it was pointed out every time Roney consumed alcohol.

Although they were seen drinking at the bar, documentation from the Iowa Alcohol and Beverage Division does show a complaint against Thirsty Turtle for allegedly over-serving Roney was dismissed.

After testifying about Roney and O’Connor’s time at the bar, the topic of discussion shifted to the vehicle marks left in the ditch, specifically, off to the side of West 108th Street North. Using a toy car, a diagram of the road, pictures of tire tracks and a stop sign, an Iowa State Patrol trooper testified regarding what they found in the investigation, as well as with the damage to Roney’s vehicle.

O’Connor was killed after he was ejected from a vehicle in a rollover accident at the intersection of Highway 117 and West 108th Street North near Indian Creek south of Mingo.

The Iowa State Patrol reported O’Connor was pronounced dead at the scene. Investigators said the vehicle was traveling northbound on Highway 117 around 2:52 a.m. when it went off the pavement and struck the gravel road at West 108th Street North, causing it to overturn multiple times.

The vehicle came to rest on the driver’s side in a nearby cornfield.

Contact Orrin Shawl at 641-792-3121 ext. 6533 or oshawl@newtondailynews.com

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