Prosecutor: Cedar Rapids Stabbing Victim Was 'Left For Dead'

By Trish Mehaffey, Reporter

Theodore Gathercole takes notes during his trial for the Jiune 2013 attempted murder of Frederick Rottmiller during the first day of testimony in Linn County District Court on Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014, in Cedar Rapids. (Liz Martin/KCRG-TV9)

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By Richard Pratt

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa -- Fredrick Rottmiller, 72, was stabbed several times and left for dead June 16, 2013, First Assistant Linn County Attorney Nick Maybanks said Tuesday during his opening statement in Theodore Gathercole's attempted murder trial.

“Injuries designed to kill, but he survived,” Maybanks told the jurors. “He was stabbed in the gut, his neck and his eye.”

Maybanks warned the jurors that there wouldn’t be any DNA evidence, fingerprints or even a weapon left at the scene to pin it on the attacker like on the television show CSI.

However, there will be the “most powerful piece of evidence” – the victim will identify the attacker as Theodore Gathercole.

Linn County Chief Public Defender Brian Sissel, Gathercole’s attorney, said in his opening, he doesn’t doubt that Rottmiller will point the finger at Gathercole. Gathercole asked Rottmiller for money earlier that evening but Gathercole then left the area and wasn’t around when the stabbing happened.

Theodore Gathercole, 51, is charged with attempted murder, first-degree robbery and willful injury. He is accused of stabbing Rottmiller several times, causing life-threatening injuries, as Rottmiller was walking with Gathercole to his car in the 1500 block alley between 1st and 2nd Avenue SE, June 16, 2013, according to a criminal complaint. Gathercole asked Rottmiller for money for transportation but Rottmiller agreed to give him a ride and Gathercole attacked him.

The trial is expected to wrap up this week. Rottmiller will take the stand later today.

Maybanks said Gathercole “violently attacked him because of the most basic human desire – greed. There’s no other reasonable explanation for why he did it except money.”

Maybanks said Rottmiller had given Gathercole $20 earlier that evening and then Gathercole came to his apartment about 3 a.m. asking for more. He said he needed money for transportation, so Rottmiller said he would instead give him a ride.

Rottmiller then met Gathercole by his truck and when he went open the door for Gathercole, Gathercole stabbed him and left him in a pool of blood underneath the truck.

Sissel said there’s no evidence that Gathercole is the one who attacked Rottmiller. The police “contaminated” the crime scene. They picked up Rottmiller’s cell phone and destroyed any possible evidence. They left the scene open to public for hours and then decided to come back and try to investigate.

Police tested knives found in Gathercole’s apartment but no blood was found, Sissel said. There was no bloody clothing found. Gathercole was arrested three days later and has "adamantly" denied any involvement in the crime.
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