First Witness Testifies "I Heard Her Scream" in Jerome Power Trial
By Trish Mehaffey, Reporter
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Philip Bemer testified Wednesday he wouldn't forget his good friend screaming on the phone as she was being attacked in 2010.
Bemer was talking to Doris Bevins on the phone after they had been out playing bingo and their conversation went from discussing the weather to Bevins answering someone pounding at the door and then yelling "Get the hell out. Don't touch me."
"I heard her scream and ask for help," Bemer said. "I could hear a gurgling noise and then a (thump). "I was so shook up...... but I called 911 and said something was happening."
Bemer was the first witness in the murder trial of Jerome Power, 50, who is accused of strangling to death Bevins, 68, Sept. 19, 2010. Power is charged with first-degree murder.
Police found Bevins unconscious in her apartment with flannel pajama pants tied around her neck. According to medical examiner's report, the cause of death was asphyxiation by strangulation.
The prosecution will continue its case 9 a.m. Thursday in Linn County District Court. Follow Reporter Trish Mehaffey's live coverage from the courtroom at www.thegazette.com
Bemer testified that before Bevins started yelling. He heard a male's voice asking her if she had a gas or electric stove. Then she started yelling "Get out."
Several Cedar Rapids police officers also testified about that night when they responded to the 911 call.
Officer Sarah Lacina said she was first one to arrive within 45 seconds from receiving the call. She started knocking on the door and identified herself because she knew Bevins may have been in trouble according to the 911 call. Bevins didn't respond. Several other officers arrived and started knocking on the door.
Officer Frank Vozenilek testified he went around to a side window of the apartment to look inside and finally found a gap in one of the blinds to see a body lying on the floor. He then yelled at the other officers and told them to kick in the door. Finally, one of the officers used a flashlight to break out a window pane and reached in to unlock the deadbolt.
Vozenilek said as he entered, he started going towards the body but then "out of the corner of his eye" he saw a black male behind the door. The man, who was identified as Power, was taken to the ground, cuffed and taken out of the apartment.
During this time, Lacina said she went to attend to Bevins who was unconscious lying on the floor. Bevins' nightgown was pulled up over her face and Lacina didn't see the flannel pajama pants tied around her neck until she attempted to feel her pulse.
Lacina said the pant legs were tightly tied around her neck and she remembered it took some effort to loosen them.
Bevins was taken to the hospital but died the next day, Lacina said.
The officers also testified about Power attempting to say he saw another black man who ran out the back door or escaped out a window. Officers said there wasn't a back door and there was no evidence that any window had been opened for some time in the apartment.
Retired Officer Mark Risse, who was patrol supervisor back in 2010, said he heard Power tell other officers while being interviewed that a "white guy" had done it.
All the officers who testified were asked if they saw any other person that night in the area or coming out of the house but they didn't see anybody besides Power.
Jason Dunn, Power's attorney, in his opening statement said the jury would find Power innocent once they heard all the evidence, which will include a police interview and Power's comments are put into proper context.