Opening statements, witness testimony heard in Robert Stern tria - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Opening statements, witness testimony heard in Robert Stern trial

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After a day and a half of jury selection, ten men and four women were seated by noon Wednesday, and opening statements were heard in the trial of Robert Stern in Dubuque.

The 63-year-old is accused of shooting his daughter with three different weapons in their home in Dubuque last June.

In their opening statement, the state alleged Stern's daughter, Kim, was a burden because she was autistic, and that's why he killed her.  They laid out their plan, which included hearing testimony from police officers who responded to the scene, medical professionals at the hospital where he was taken after he called 911, and many more witnesses.

Meanwhile, the defense says that Stern's relationship with his daughter was much better than the state alleges, and promised to produce a witness who would testify to Kim's mental state, which may have caused her to behave in a way that it only looked like Stern struggled with her.  They say he was a man overwhelmed: his wife and son had died the year before, and earlier in 2015 he was diagnosed with cancer, among other physical ailments.

The state then began their case by calling 911 center Manager Mark Murphy, who produced the 911 call made by Stern himself.

In the call, Stern sounds confused and distressed.

"What happened?" The dispatcher asked.

"I don't know, I was resting and I got up and please hurry," Stern replied. "Okay, but you have to tell me what happened so I know what to send," the dispatcher said.

"There's somebody might be dead. I don't know, I don't know," Stern said.

The state also called Dubuque Police Officer Kurt Rosenthal, who was one of the first officers on the scene.

He said he smelled gunpowder in the bedroom where Kim's body was found, along with two revolvers on the ground near the door.

He then found Kim's body in the room, with multiple bullet wounds, including one to the neck and one to the hand.

On cross examination, Rosenthal said that Stern appeared frail, distant and confused at the time.

Testimony resumes Thursday morning at 9:00 a.m.

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