Gibbs held on $1 million bond

Bailiff orders victim’s mother to cease using cell phone to record hearing

-Messenger photo by Peter Kaspari Levi Gibbs III listens as Magistrate William Thatcher speaks to him during Webster County Magistrate Court Tuesday morning. Gibbs, who appeared in court via a closed-circuit TV monitor, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Shane Wessels, of Fort Dodge, earlier this month.

Levi Gibbs III, the man accused of shooting and killing another man in Fort Dodge earlier this month, has been ordered held on $1 million cash-only bond.

Gibbs, 27, of Fort Dodge, made his initial appearance in Webster County Magistrate Court Tuesday morning.

He is accused of shooting and killing Shane Wessels, 32, of Fort Dodge, in the early morning hours of Sept. 3 near the Mini Park in Pleasant Valley.

Gibbs was arrested early Monday morning in Des Moines and was brought back to Fort Dodge Monday afternoon.

At his initial appearance Tuesday, Gibbs was read his rights by Magistrate William Thatcher, who also informed him of the charge he is facing.

Levi Gibbs III

Shane Wessels’ mother, Kendra Wessels, was in the courtroom to watch Gibbs’ initial appearance.

At some point, Wessels pulled out a cell phone and was apparently using it to either photograph or video Gibbs’ initial appearance.

Cameras are not allowed in Iowa courtrooms without the permission of the presiding judge.

Chief Deputy Rod Strait, who was serving as bailiff during court, saw the phone. He sternly told Wessels to leave the courtroom or take the camera out of the courtroom.

Wessels gave the cell phone to someone who was with her, who then took it out of the courtroom. Wessels remained in the courtroom for the rest of Gibbs’ initial appearance before leaving.

There was also apparently a disagreement about who is Gibbs’ attorney. Thatcher informed Gibbs that Peter Berger, an attorney from Urbandale, had filed an appearance on Gibbs’ behalf.

However, Gibbs told Thatcher that he was applying for a court-appointed attorney.

Thatcher told Gibbs that he would approve the defendant’s application, and signed an order appointing the State Public Defender’s office to represent him. However, he suggested to Gibbs that both the office and Berger talk to determine who will actually be representing him.

Additionally, Thatcher scheduled Gibbs’ preliminary hearing for Sept. 27.

Fort Dodge police found Shane Wessels unresponsive around 3:30 a.m. on Sept. 3 at the intersection of 10th Avenue Southwest and 10th Street Southwest.

He had been shot, police reported.

There was reportedly a fight shortly before the shooting.

Wessels was transported to UnityPoint Health — Trinity Regional Medical Center, where he was later pronounced dead.

Gibbs was named the suspect in Wessel’s murder on Sept. 12. Webster County Crime Stoppers offered a $1,000 reward for information leading to Gibbs’ arrest.

He was arrested by Des Moines police on Monday.