MASON CITY | Larry Whaley was found guilty of second-degree murder by a Cerro Gordo County jury Thursday afternoon.
The jury deliberated for two and a half hours before reaching its verdict. Whaley had been charged with second-degree murder for the fatal shooting of 19-year-old Samantha Teeter.
Whaley sat silently in his seat, and showed little emotion as the verdict was read. Family members and friends of Teeter, who had packed about half of the courtroom the entire trial, embraced each other in the hallway outside the courtroom following the verdict.
Cerro Gordo County Attorney Carlyle Dalen said he was pleased with the verdict, and added he was happy with how the evidence came into court.
"Law enforcement did a very good job of putting this together and the trial went well," he said. "So I'm happy for the family and I'm happy for everyone involved ... there's some conclusion to this murder and I think the family can move on the best that they can after this terrible incident."
Both Jill Eimermann and Mike Adams, state public defenders representing Whaley, declined comment after the verdict.
The trial, which spanned four days, focused on the issue of whether Whaley was justified to shoot through his apartment door on Dec. 2, 2016. Dalen and Iowa Assistant Attorney General Douglas Hammerand argued that he was not justified, and acted with malice and forethought when he fired his .44-caliber revolver through that door.
Hammerand said in his closing argument that Whaley was reckless when he shot through the door. He demonstrated to the jury how the shooting transpired by pointing Whaley’s firearm toward the front door to his apartment —which rested against the backdoor of the courtroom.
“The defendant took that gun, and then went, 'pow', and fired through the door,” Hammerand said, similar to the language and action Dalen used in his opening argument.
Eimermann and Adams argued that Whaley feared for his life, and thought Corey Mays — a man who police testified was known to possibly carry a gun — was behind his door. They added that Whaley had felt threatened by Mays the entire week leading up to the shooting.
“If Mr. Whaley had any clue that Samantha was on the other side of that door, he wouldn’t have shot,” Adams said in his closing argument.
“Did Larry have perfect judgement? No,” he added. “But the law does not say he has to have perfect judgement.”
Sentencing is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Feb. 6. A second-degree murder conviction in Iowa carries a term of up to 50 years in prison.