Jessica Dayton Found Guilty of First Degree Murder

By Trish Mehaffey

Jessica Dayton, 19, of Belle Plaine watches as a witness enters the courtroom during her first-degree murder trial, Wednesday, April 21, 2010 at the Iowa County Courthouse in Marengo. Dayton is accused in the killing of her boss Curtis Bailey, 33, of Marengo in July 2009. (Brian Ray/The Gazette)

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By Richard Pratt

MARENGO - A Belle Plaine woman has been found guilty of first-degree murder in connection with the death of her employer.

Jessica Dayton was found guilty Tuesday by an Iowa County District Court jury in the July 18 beating death of Curtis Bailey in his Marengo home.

Dayton is one of three people charged in the case. Bailey's common-law wife, Denise Frei, 44, of Marengo, and her son, Jacob Hilgendorf, 19, of Belle Plaine, are also accused in his death. Their trial is set for January.

Prosecutors contend the three conspired to get the 33-year-old Bailey drunk so they could kill him. The 20-year-old Dayton worked in the man's Belle Plaine restaurant.

The defense didn't put on any witnesses during Dayton's trial, with defense attorney Doug Eichholz contending the state didn't prove Dayton was involved in the murder.

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