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Second-degree murder

Jury finds Gibbs guilty in death of Shane Wessels

-Messenger photo by Peter Kaspari
Levi Gibbs III blows a kiss to family members after a jury in Webster County District Court found him guilty of killing Shane Wessels in Fort Dodge.

Levi Gibbs III was convicted of second-degree murder Tuesday after jurors deliberated for about six-and-a-half hours.

Gibbs, 28, of Fort Dodge, was convicted of shooting and killing Shane Wessels, 32, also of Fort Dodge, on Sept. 3, 2017, at the intersection of 10th Avenue Southwest and 10th Street Southwest.

After court ended, Gibbs turned to his family and said to them: “This isn’t over.” Then he blew kisses as they left the courtroom.

Gibbs was originally charged with first-degree murder, but jurors instead convicted him of the lesser-included offense of second-degree murder. They could also have either convicted him of voluntary manslaughter or acquitted him.

Although he wasn’t convicted of the original charge, Ryan Baldridge, first assistant Webster County attorney, said he was satisfied with the verdict.

-Messenger photo by Peter Kaspari
Levi Gibbs III hears the jury’s verdict in Webster County District Court on Tuesday. The jury found him guilty of second-degree murder. Gibbs’ attorney, Peter Berger, pictured in the foreground, could not be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.

“I think it’s a good outcome,” Baldridge said. “I hope Mr. Wessels’ family is able to get closure from this.”

He also thanked area law enforcement officers for their help in the case.

“I appreciate all the assistance from law enforcement through our investigation and trial,” he said.

Gibbs’ attorney, Peter Berger, could not be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.

Wessels’ family did not wish to comment, according to Marie Harvey, supervisor of the Domestic Sexual Assault Outreach Center’s Homicide/Other Violent Crimes Program.

Gibbs shot Wessels during a fight in Pleasant Valley on Sept. 3, 2017.

While both sides agreed that Gibbs was the one who shot Wessels, prosecutors argued that Gibbs shot him during a fight after several women began assaulting him with numerous items, including a club, a stun gun and glass liquor bottle.

Berger argued that Wessels was beating the women, which included Gibbs’ sister, Latricia Roby. He said Wessels broke Roby’s nose and that Gibbs shot him in order to defend his sister.

Brandon Mapes, who testified for the prosecution, said Gibbs came up to Wessels, shoved him for no apparent reason and began arguing with him.

He further testified that, when he tried to calm Gibbs down, the women began assaulting Wessels.

Dominick Altman, another prosecution witness, testified that she saw Gibbs go off to a car and come back with a gun to shoot Wessels.

But Preston Mosley, who Berger called to testify, said that Wessels was the aggressor and that he and another man tried to get him to leave.

Another defense witness, Haven Junkman, testified that she saw Wessels about to stomp the face of her cousin, who was lying on the ground. Junkman testified that she ran up to Wessels and hit him in the chest to get him to stop.

Prosecutors argued the key piece of evidence in the case was a surveillance camera on a telephone pole nearby that captured the shooting on video. The video shows Gibbs firing and Wessels reacting to the gunshot.

Berger argued that the video showed Wessels flinching and not actually getting shot, but prosecutors said it was the fatal shot caught on the video.

Dr. Dennis Klein, state medical examiner, said the bullet entered through Wessels’ right arm, broke his humerus, went through his heart and lungs before ending up in his left chest.

The bullet would have killed Wessels within minutes, he said.

Gibbs’ sentencing has been set for July 27 at 10 a.m.

He is being held without bond.

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