Man Accused of Trying to Kill Officer, Pleads Guilty to Lesser Charges

By Vanessa Miller, Reporter

Branden Plummer sits alone during a short recess in his plea hearing Friday, Sept. 21, 2012 at the Johnson County District Court House in Iowa City. Plummer plead to charges of willful injury, a felony, and interference with official acts inflicting bodily injury. (Brian Ray/The Gazette-KCRG)

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By Aaron Hepker

IOWA CITY, Iowa - A 21-year-old former University of Iowa student who could have faced up to seven years behind bars for assaulting and choking an Iowa City police officer last fall likely will spend just one month in the Johnson County Jail.

Branden L. Plummer, originally charged with attempted murder in the Nov. 18 attack, pleaded guilty on Friday to the lesser charges of willful injury, a felony, and interference with official acts inflicting bodily injury, an aggravated misdemeanor.

As part of the plea agreement, Plummer likely will receive a suspended prison sentence of up to five years for the felony charge. For the misdemeanor, Plummer will be ordered to serve 60 days in jail, with the ability to leave for work or school.

He'll be given credit for the 30 days he’s already served in the Johnson County Jail, meaning he’ll likely spend one more month behind bars. If he violates the conditions of his probation, Plummer could end up in prison on the felony offense, according to assistant county attorney Anne Lahey.

Plummer has expressed an interest in requesting a deferred judgment, which would clear his record of the felony if he stays out of trouble, according to Lahey.

His sentencing date has been set for Nov. 2.

Plummer, who posted bond in his attempted murder case about a month after his arrest, appeared in court Friday to enter his guilty plea with his attorney. Several friends and family members were present. He didn’t talk except to say, “Yes, your honor,” when asked if he is guilty and if he assaulted the officer.

Earlier this summer, about eight months after he was arrested for attacking Iowa City police Sgt. Brian Krei, Plummer was ticketed for trespassing in West Des Moines, near his home town of Urbandale.

According to a criminal complaint out of Polk County, Plummer illegally entered a locked pool after hours without consent on July 7. He was charged with trespassing, a simple misdemeanor, but he pleaded guilty in August to an amended charge of disorderly conduct and was ordered to pay a fine.

Lahey said that minor conviction did not play a role in her office’s decision to offer Plummer a plea deal in the attempted murder case. She said offenses committed before the November assault weighed into the decision more.

Plummer was convicted of having an open container in November 2008 – when he was just 17. He was found guilty of operating while intoxicated in 2010, at age 19, and he was found guilty of operation without registration on Nov. 8, 2011, just days before the officer assault in Iowa City.

Amended trial information filed Friday states that Plummer on Nov. 18 hit the Iowa City officer “in the face and head, pushed his head into the concrete once he had him down and then forcibly choked him.”

The court documents go on to say that Plummer refused to show identification to the officer, and Plummer tried to run away from the scene near the corner of Burlington and Linn streets. When the officer tried to stop him, Plummer assaulted the officer causing a concussion, abrasions and contusions, police reported.

Plummer’s attempted murder trial, which was scheduled to start Monday, had been moved to Tama County because of concerns it would be difficult to seat an unbiased jury in Johnson County.

Plummer didn’t talk following the hearing and neither did Krei or his family members. Iowa City police Lt. Doug Hart told reporters that the agreement was acceptable to the victim, and that is what matters.

“The Johnson County Attorney’s Office is well-renowned for its resolutions of cases that victims feel comfortable with,” he said.

He also said that law enforcement officers “respect the judicial process” and know that plea deals sometimes occur.
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