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Onawa teen to face separate trials for 7 sexual assaults

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ONAWA, Iowa -- Rather than face one trial for 10 counts of sexual abuse, an Onawa teenager now could have seven separate trials -- one for each alleged victim.

District Judge Jeffrey Poulson on Tuesday granted Jay Lee Neubaum's motion to sever the charges into separate trials in which only the charges pertaining to each victim will be tried.

Neubaum, 17, who also is charged with first-degree murder in an unrelated case, is scheduled to stand trial in October in Monona County District Court. A new trial schedule has yet to be set.

Neubaum has pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of third-degree sexual abuse for the alleged rape of six teenage girls and forced sexual contact with a seventh. He is accused of sexually assaulting the girls, who ranged in age from 13 to 16, from September through March in Mapleton, Iowa. In the case of three of the girls, Neubaum faces two counts. He is charged with one count for each of the other four alleged assaults. Neubaum repeatedly denied the accusations during an interview with investigators.

Public defender Laury Lau sought the separate trials, arguing that if Neubaum were tried for all counts during one trial, he could be prejudiced if jurors hear evidence that's inadmissible in one count being introduced in an effort to prove another count.

Poulson ruled that although there were similarities in each sexual assault, they were not part of a "common scheme or plan," as the state had argued in its resistance to Lau's motion, and did not meet requirements to be tried together.

"The court concludes that the risk of prejudice to the defendant outweighs the interest of judicial economy," Poulson wrote.

Neubaum also is scheduled to stand trial in October for the Jan. 31 shooting death of 16-year-old Joseph Hopkins in Mapleton.

Another judge last week denied Neubaum's request to move his trials from Monona County, ruling that he believed an impartial jury can be seated there.

Each count of sexual abuse carries a 10-year prison sentence. If found guilty of first-degree murder, Neubaum would face a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole.

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The boys were transported to Lakes Regional Healthcare in Spirit Lake, where the 15-year-old was pronounced dead. The 14-year-old was treated and released.

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