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UI student challenges charges

Trish Mehaffey, CR Gazette –

IOWA CITY – A University of Iowa student accused of choking a police officer last month claims his charges were “elevated” because it involved an officer, and he also asks for the Iowa Attorney General’s Office to prosecute the case instead of Johnson County.

Branden L. Plummer, 20, of Urbandale, filed two motions last week and three this week asking for a change of venue, challenging the attempted murder charge, asking the court for medical records of the alleged victim, asking for a dismissal and claiming the trial information is too vague.

Plummer is accused of choking Iowa City Police Sgt. Brian Krei unconscious near the corner of Burlington and Linn streets Nov. 18, according to a criminal complaint. Krei allegedly stopped Plummer for blocking traffic at the intersection.

According to a police report, Krei was choked and his head was slammed into the concrete and he briefly lost consciousness. A few bystanders helped stop the short attack, and the suspect fled the scene. Video and audio from Krei’s squad car captured part of the assault. An image of the suspect from a surveillance camera at a nearby restaurant led police to arrest Plummer.

Mark Brown, Plummer’s attorney, said in his motion requesting the Iowa Attorney General’s Office prosecute the case that the attempted murder charge doesn’t fit the crime and the charge was elevated because the alleged victim is a police officer. Brown compares 17 other people charged in Johnson County which resulted in similar injuries alleged to be suffered by Krei and none of them resulted in attempted murder charges. Most of the charges were assault causing bodily injury and assault on a peace officer, according to the motion.

Brown said in the motion that he can only speculate as to why the Johnson County Attorney’s Office elevated the charge – out of loyalty and respect for Krei without “factual evaluation.” Johnson County should withdraw from the case, according to the motion.

Brown also asks the court to dismiss the attempted murder charge because the trial information is “vague, unconstitutional and defunct regarding information and or evidence substantiating” a charge of attempted murder, according to the motion. The trial information doesn’t have any detail to provide how Plummer started any chain of events likely to cause the death of the alleged victim, according to the motion.

The defense also filed a motion to compel the medical records of Krei regarding the choking incident because no information has been given to Plummer or Brown, according to the motion. The state hasn’t turned over any medical records, notes, treatment or diagnosis to the defense as required.

The defense also asks for a change of venue, claiming there has been “media saturation” of this incident online, in video clips, newspapers and in television coverage, according to the motion. The publicity has placed Plummer in a “poor light” and the articles have been “prejudicial in nature,” regarding the alleged facts of the case.

The state hasn’t filed responses to the motions at this time.

A hearing is set for the motions to dismiss and for the change of venue 11 a.m. Jan. 17, in Johnson County District Court.

Plummer’s trial is set Feb. 21.

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