Trial Reset to April in Manchester Double Homicide
By Trish Mehaffey, Reporter
MANCHESTER, Iowa - A 19-year-old charged in the double homicide of his friend's grandparents waived his right to jury trial Tuesday and his bench trial was reset to April 17, in Delaware County District Court.
Brandon Ahlers of Manchester is charged with two counts of aiding and abetting in first-degree murder for his part in the slaying of Janet, 62, and Richard, 55, Sweet, of Manchester, May 13, 2012. He is accused of suggesting to his friend, Isaiah Sweet, different ways to kill the couple. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges and remains in jail under bond.
Isaiah Sweet, 17, of Manchester, is also charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the homicide. He is accused of shooting and killing his grandparents. The couple was found dead in their home May 13, with gunshot wounds to the head. Relatives found the bodies when they came over for Mother's Day.
According to a search warrant, Isaiah Sweet admitted to shooting his grandparents after contemplating beating his grandfather with a baseball bat. He has pleaded not guilty and remains in jail under bond.
Delaware County Attorney John Bernau said during a pretrial hearing Tuesday Ahlers asked for the non-jury trial and dropped his motion for a change of venue. The trial will remain in Delaware County.
Bernau said a judge granted Ahlers' motion to suppress a small portion of a police interview. Ahlers argued that during the interview, which was before he was arrested and charged, Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation agents implied he might get leniency in return for information about the crime. That part of the interview won't be allowed at trial.
According to an affidavit filed in the case, Ahlers admitted to investigators that Sweet had asked him to come over to discuss killing the couple. Ahlers said he suggested options including poisoning, drugging and shooting them, but he cautioned Isaiah not to use an assault rifle in the house because "everyone" could hear the gunshots.
In independent interviews, Ahlers and Isaiah Sweet told investigators that Sweet asked Ahlers, who had experience with guns, how to load ammunition into the assault rifle. Sweet reportedly told Ahlers during a phone conversation, "I'll get ahold of you when it's done."
In another conversation shortly afterward, Sweet told Ahlers that he killed the couple, according to the affidavit. Ahlers then told Sweet to come over to his house with the weapon so he could get rid of it. He took the rifle and sold it but later retrieved it and turned it in to investigators.
Isaiah Sweet's trial is also set April 17, but he will be tried separately from Ahlers. He recently changed attorneys so his trial will likely be reset.