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Pleasant Valley shooting defendants file new defense, motion

Two defendants charged with second-degree murder in the June 2020 Pleasant Valley shooting that killed two men have filed notice of a special defense and a motion for a bill of particulars.

James Davis Jr., of Fort Dodge, has notified the court that he will pursue a special self-defense strategy at trial, asserting that he fired his weapon to defend either himself or others at the scene of the shooting.

Co-defendant Darrell Jones made the same declaration in January. His fiancee was one of two women injured in the shooting who survived after suffering shots to the face and leg.

Defendants in certain criminal proceedings are required to give notice when they intend to use a special defense strategy. Other notable examples that fall under the same section of criminal procedural rules include pleading not guilty by reason of insanity and defenses of intoxication or entrapment.

On Friday, Jones filed a motion for a bill of particulars, formally asking the court for more detailed information that forms the basis justifying his charges.

“The minutes of testimony are lengthy and filled with generalizations, legalese and summary language, but are nearly devoid of allegations or statements regarding acts of this defendant,” said defense attorney Stanley Roush in the filing. “There is no statement or allegation that (the) defendant did any act that caused a death. There is no statement or allegation that a bullet fired by (the) defendant hit anything.”

Additionally, Roush said none of the preliminary testimony collected from witnesses indicated that Jones fired a bullet that struck another person or that he had a motive to kill.

“In fact there is no statement or allegation which could reasonably lead to the conclusion that the defendant killed another person,” Roush said, saying that trial information and the testimony so far was insufficient to prepare a defense.

The filing said that Fort Dodge Police Detective Larry Hedlund accuses the defendant of admitting to firing a .40 caliber handgun in the direction of the deceased and that other witnesses said Jones either fired or possessed a handgun, but that those statements alone are insufficient to constitute second-degree murder charges.

Jones was held in the Webster County Jail for nearly five months as a material witness to the shooting before he was charged. For that, the court ordered that he be paid $5,560 as a material witness — $40 per day — for being held, as Iowa code allows for material witnesses.

After a five-month investigation spanning a multiple jurisdictions, Davis, 35, and Jones, 23, were two of five men charged with two counts of second-degree murder in the June 16 shooting that killed Jamael Cox, 25, and Tyrone Cunningham, 47, in the 900 block of 10th Avenue Southwest.

The following people were also charged:

-Michael J. Shivers of Eagle Grove, 55.

-Michael J. Wells of Fort Dodge, 33.

-Jeremiha R. Hatten of Fort Dodge, 22.

All except Hatten also face an additional charge of felon in possession of a firearm, a class D felony.

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