Jerome Power Takes the Stand in His Own Defense

By Trish Mehaffey, Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Jerome Power took the stand Friday in his first-degree murder trial and contradicted most of the details he gave police back in September 2010, the night his neighbor was strangled to death.

Power repeatedly ranted in a police video played Thursday about a former resident from his and Bevins' apartment house that he was convinced assaulted and killed Bevins on Sept. 19, 2010.

Power testified today he was mistaken about the former resident, Terry Wilson, being the killer and other details he gave after his arrest were "exaggerations," confusion over time and incident, memory lapse or the police got it wrong.

Power also accused another man of killing Bevins that night. He saw this man coming around the corner from Bevins' apartment as he was going to pump up her air mattress for the second time that day.

Power, 50, is accused of killing Bevins, 68, who died from ligature strangulation. Police found Bevins lying unconscious on the floor of her apartment with pajama pants tightly tied around her neck. Power was hiding behind the entry door when police had to break out a window to get inside the locked apartment after receiving a 911 call.

Power testified he was "amped" up Sept. 19, 2010 because he just got a new job. He celebrated that day with friends and watched movies at home and aired up Bevins' mattress in the afternoon.

Later that night about 10 p.m., he grabbed his textbook and was sitting outside on the stairs of his apartment when he saw Bevins and she asked him to put more air in her mattress. He went down to Bevins' apartment about 11 p.m. and saw Wilson nearby. Then, he saw another black man coming around the corner from Bevins' with a Styrofoam plate.

Power then knocked on Bevins' door but she didn't answer, so he just walked in. Out of habit, he just shut the door and locked it. He looked for the air pump that was kept behind the door but it wasn't there, so he walked to the back of the apartment and heard "banging." Then, he saw Bevins lying on the floor.

He heard police and hollered "Wait, wait" trying to get to the door, Power said. Then, police broke a window and rushed in, without letting him explain what happened. They immediately put him in a "choke hold," cuffed him and took him to the ground.

Linn County Attorney Jerry Vander Sanden on cross examination asked him if everything he said today was the truth.

Power said it was.

Vander Sanden said was everything true in the police interview.

"Yes and no," Power said. "I misjudged Wilson and I apologized to him for that. I got the times wrong."

Vander Sanden asked if he changed details of the story because he saw the police video and reviewed the transcript.

Power said he just saw the video for the first time. He admitted being incorrect on some things.

"You didn't say anything about your efforts to save Doris Bevins?" Vander Sanden said.

Power admitted to lying in the police interview about performing CPR and giving her mouth to mouth.

"You said several times that you did," Vander Sanden said. "So, those were all lies?"

Power said "Those were incorrect." He wanted to be able to revive her but couldn't. He doesn't know how to perform CPR.

"You claimed you called 911 that night with her (Bevins) cell?" Vander Sanden said.

Power said that wasn't true.

Police testified there was no record of a 911 call from Power. Only Philip Bemer, Bevins' friend, called 911.

Vander Sanden asked him to explain a portion of the video when Power was alone in the room and he appeared to be spitting on his hands and wiping them through his hair and then brushing off his clothes and taking his socks and slapping them against his pants.

"Were you trying to get rid of or disguise some evidence?" Vander Sanden said.

Power watched it and said he wasn't trying to get rid of evidence on him.

"Didn't you say something about DNA," Vander Sanden said as he turned up the video sound and made Power listen again.

The jurors leaned forward in their seats to hear that part.

"There, did you hear that?"

Power said "No."

"Didn't Doris Bevins let you in that night because she trusted you?" Vander Sanden said. "Didn't you ask her about her stove.......wasn't that your ruse to get in that night. You assaulted her and tried to blame somebody else?"

Power said "No."

In earlier testimony, Wilson testified he didn't kill Bevins. He had known her for more than 10 years and considered her a friend. He didn't see her that day.

Police testified they never considered Wilson or the other man Power accused as suspects in this case.

The defense rested after Power's testimony. Closing arguments are 9 a.m. Monday and the jury may start deliberations late morning.

Gazette reporter Trish Mehaffey will continue her live coverage from the courtroom Monday for closing arguments, you can follow along here.
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