Linn County Attorney: shooter in 2017 Coggon death 'would have had legitimate claim of self defense'

LINN COUNTY, Iowa (KCRG) - Five people were sentenced in relation to a Coggon shooting, but no one was charged with the murder of 20-year-old Dylan Plotz.

From left to right (top): Dillon Beener, Chase Zerba, Kordell Jones (bottom): Cameron Klouda, Tyler Clemens (Photos: Linn County Sheriff's Office)

Investigators say Plotz died when he, along with Dillon Beener, 22, and Kordell Jones, 20, of Cedar Rapids, tried to steal marijuana from another group of men in Coggon.

The U.S. Attorney's Office says Chase Zerba, 21, of Coggon, Cameron Klouda, 22, of Coggon, and Tyler Clemens, 24, of Alburnett were in a minivan when Plotz raised a .40 caliber Hi-Point pistol. Moments after, Clemens pulled the trigger of the shotgun that shot Plotz. Clemens admitted to pulling the trigger at his sentencing Monday.

Both U.S. Attorney Peter E. Deegan, Jr. and Col. John Stuelke with the Linn County Sheriff's Office said they do not anticipate any more charges coming from the Coggon case, including a murder charge despite Clemens' admission.

The Linn County Sheriff's Office and Linn County Attorney Jerry Vander Sanden believes it may have to do with a burden of proof, and "credible evidence" that Plotz was the first to display and point a firearm.

According to the Linn County Sheriff's Office, they believe the county attorney cannot include a murder charge in state court- and prove it. Vander Sanden agreed, saying in a statement to TV9: "I reviewed their investigation and concurred with their conclusion that the person who pulled the trigger would have a legitimate claim of self-defense under the circumstances."

Both Deegan, Jr. and Col. Stuelke said the investigation into this case is closed. Col. Stuelke said it may have to do with a lack of proof.

"We have two groups of individuals that come together to do a drug buy," Col. Stuelke said. "The one individual who's deceased now pulls a gun, the other individual pulls another gun and shoots him. Is it a case of self defense? Sometimes these cases are not real black and white. And in this situation, if you're going to get involved in the drug trade, sometimes things happen that you don't expect to happen."

Col. Stuelke said he believes the U.S. Attorney's Office charged the individuals involved with the most serious crimes possible.

Deegan, Jr. referred to the shooting today as a tragedy- but believes these crimes can be avoided. Vander Sanden added the concerns of selling drugs and the dangers associated with it.

"This tragic set of circumstances serves as a classic example of the inherent dangers of illegal drug trafficking and the violence that is closely associated with the illicit drug trade," Vander Sanden said.