Judge Finds Probable Cause for Murder Charge for Man Accused of Killing Parents

By Trish Mehaffey, Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - A federal magistrate said Thursday during a probable cause and detention hearing there was "strong evidence" that Gordon Lasley Jr. killed his parents and the murder charge should go to a grand jury.

U.S. Magistrate Jon Scoles said Lasley, 25, charged with murder in the double homicide of his parents, Gordon Lasley Sr. and Kim Lasley, Feb. 5, presents a serious danger to the community. Scoles said based on his past history and failures to appear in misdemeanor offenses starting in 2006, he didn't think there were any conditions that would guarantee his appearance in court and he will remain in custody pending trial without bond.

Scoles said Lasley Jr., a member of Sac and Fox Tribe of Mississippi who was enrolled as a third-year student at Marshalltown Community College, has several convictions for public intoxication, trespassing, possession of marijuana, OWI, interference with officials acts, theft, and was on probation for assault causing bodily injury at the time of this homicide.

FBI Special Agent Scott Irwin testified to the facts laid out in the complaint filed last Friday. No new details were revealed during the hearing.

On cross examination, John Burns, one of Lasley's attorneys, asked if Lasley's girlfriend, who Irwin interviewed, indicated there was any conflict at the parents' home while Lasley Jr. was there.

Irwin said no. She said Lasley Jr. "appeared happy." She said she and Lasley Jr. had smoked marijuana earlier in the evening.

According to the complaint, the girlfriend told police Lasley Jr. said he killed his parents.

Burns asked if she said the parents were also smoking marijuana that night.

Irwin said she didn't. The girlfriend said Lasley Jr. made some other comments to him but Irwin didn't say what.

Scoles said according to a pretrial report Lasley Jr. had "heavily" consumed alcohol since he was 14-years-old up to last year and had been using marijuana since he was 14. He also went through substance abuse treatment in 2006 and 2011.

According to the complaint Lasley Jr. was pulled over by Tama County Sheriff's deputies Feb. 6, in his mother's car. Lasley had blood on his hands and clothing. He also had cuts and lacerations on his left hand and scratches on his right hand.

Lasley's girlfriend told authorities she had been with Lasley and his parents in their home on the Meskwaki Settlement Feb. 5, but she left the home and then later received a call from Lasley, saying he killed his parents, according to the complaint.

The older brother of Lasley Jr. and his girlfriend also told authorities he had confessed to the homicide. The girlfriend said Lasley Jr. had blood on him when he stopped by their house that night.

According to the complaint, Meskwaki Nation Police officers found the bodies of the parents after another son told police that Lasley Jr. also admitted to him about the homicide. Officers also located a machete lying on a couch with apparent blood on it.

Authorities haven't revealed a motive but a former New York City police officer and a former New York City homicide detective, who are professors at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, suggested a few possibilities after reading news articles about the case. Both said their comments are pure speculation because they are not connected or involved in the investigation.

Eugene O'Donnell, a lawyer and former New York police officer and district attorney, said this crime "screams" of a mental health issue. If not a mental issue, a robbery for drugs could be a motive or possibly the son viewed his parents as "overbearing" or somehow he viewed them as restricting him in some way. A child killing a parent isn't unusual. It usually comes back to money, children who might be financially dependent on parents.

Parents killed by one of their children has been increasing since 1980, according to a 2011 U.S. Department of Justice report. They have gone from 9.7 percent of all family homicides in 1980 to 13 percent in 2008.
"There is usually more questions than answers in a case like this and the "why" (it happened) never gets answered," O'Donnell said."It's an obscene rationality because it's a destruction of their (the child) own life."

O'Donnell said the "brutal nature" of this killing, using a machete, indicates an "intimate hatred."

Joseph Giacalone, a former Bronx and New York police detective, agreed saying the choice of weapon in his experience tells him the attacker wanted to be as close as possible, "on top of them and see that fear in their eye. They were comfortable with the attacker and wouldn't have had a chance."

Giacalone said the investigators should have decent evidence of what happened at the crime scene with blood splatter and there would be the condition of the room where the attack happened - it would likely be a "wreck."

Giacalone said of course, he doesn't know why this crime happened but all investigators start out with a basic theory and then tries to prove it or disprove.

"Ninty percent of all cases are in what we call the 'homicide triangle' - (committed because of) love, money or drugs," Giacalone said. "An investigator builds a hypothesis to launch his investigation and then lets the facts dictate the theory."
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