UPDATE: Hilgendorf found guilty of First Degree Murder - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

UPDATE: Hilgendorf found guilty of First Degree Murder


DAVENPORT (KWWL) -- A Scott County jury has found Jacob Hilgendorf guilty of First Degree Murder in the 2009 beating death of Curtis Bailey.

Hilgendorf, 21, from Belle Plaine, was accused along with his mother, Denise Frei, 45, and his girlfriend Jessica Dayton, 20, in the beating death of Curtis Bailey of Marengo at his home.

Prosecutors argue Frei planned to kill her common law husband by promising a menage a trois with Dayton and then getting him drunk.

Prosecutors said Hilgendorf was aware of this plan and helped kill Bailey once the man was both intoxicated and high on marijuana.

"The defendant needs to be held responsible for taking the state's exhibit 12 - that rock - and pummeling Curt's head several times, hitting him, repeatedly, until Curt stopped moving," prosecuting attorney Douglas Hammerand said.

Though the state doesn't have to prove a motive, prosecuting attorneys say Hilgendorf, who was 19 at the time, hated Bailey, who kicked Hilgendorf out of the house and essentially banned the teen from seeing his mother Denise Frei.

In an audio recording of Hilgendorf's interview by the Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation the day following Bailey's death, Hilgendorf admits to hitting Bailey on the head with a rock and killing him.

"I grabbed a rock and I hit him," he said in the recording.

However, in its closing argument, the defense said Hilgendorf's confession was questionable and that it came amidst a several-hour-long interview, in which the special agent conducting it pressed hard for a confession from the teen.

Also, the defense said, Hilgendorf gave statements during the interview that were later determined to be untrue or unlikely. That, his attorneys said, leads to questioning the validity of his confession.

"That proof, every time, must be beyond a reasonable doubt," Hilgendorf's public defender Peter Persaud said, in reminding the jury that the defendant is innocent until proven guilty.

Defense attorneys said Tuesday there are too many unanswered questions in the case to be able to prove Hilgendorf guilty of first-degree murder. Prosecutors, however, believe it is clear - beyond a reasonable doubt - that Hilgendorf either committed or aided and abetted the crime.

The jury deliberated for seven hours before returning the guilty verdict. 

The trial was moved to Scott County from Iowa County due to pre-trial publicity.

Dayton went on trial last year and was found guilty of First Degree Murder in April.  She is serving a life sentence.

Frei's trial is scheduled to begin in March. 

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