Court Denies Appeal of Iowan Who Shot Wife's Lover
By Trish Mehaffey, Reporter
DES MOINES, Iowa - The Iowa Court of Appeals upheld the first-degree murder conviction of a Blairstown man who shot and killed his wife’s girlfriend in 2009.
Tonch Weldon, 40, sentenced last year to life in prison for shooting Amy Gephart, 35, appealed his conviction, claiming the court allowed improper testimony from a witness and improperly barred a forensic toxicologist from testifying that Weldon was too intoxicated to form specific intent.
Weldon and his wife Amanda had an open marriage and they were in a sexual relationship with Amy Gephart, but Amanda and Gephart fell in love and decided to leave Weldon, according to court testimony. When Weldon learned they were leaving, he fatally shot Gephart in the heart with a 20-gauge shotgun before turning it on himself in his home June 7, 2009.
One of the witnesses, Brooke DeRuyter, testified about Weldon’s non-violent nature and how he valued his marriage, according to the ruling. The state on cross examination asked the witness if Weldon had to choose between his wife and Gephart, who would he choose. DeRuyter said his wife and children.
The court ruled there was no abuse of discretion in allowing DeRuyter to answer the question because others had already stated on the record how Weldon valued his marriage and his wife was everything to him. The defense opened the door by asking about Weldon’s relationship with his wife and with Gephart.
Weldon also claimed the court improperly disallowed Michael Rehberg, a forensic toxicologist, to give an opinion as to whether Weldon could form specific intent at the time of the shooting, according to the appeal. The district court ruled Weldon’s capability of forming specific intent was outside of Rehberg’s expertise.
The state argued at trial that Rehberg wasn’t a doctor and had no psychological qualifications to give an expert opinion on Weldon’s state of mind. The appeals court ruled Rehberg was a qualified expert in toxicology but had no expertise in determining an individual’s state of mind.
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