Hall sentenced to life for Fort Dodge prison murder

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
Eric T. Hall, 45, listens to the victim impact statement during his sentencing hearing on Friday morning at the Webster County Courthouse. Hall was convicted in May by a Webster County jury for the June 2020 first-degree murder of FDCF inmate Thomas Daleske.

A Wisconsin man will spend the rest of his life in prison for killing a fellow inmate at the Fort Dodge Correctional Facility in June 2020.

Eric T. Hall, 45, was convicted on May 18 by a Webster County jury of first-degree murder for the death of FDCF inmate Thomas Daleske. Hall was sentenced to the mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole on Friday morning.

Hall attacked Daleske in the victim’s cell at the FDCF on June 14, 2020. Daleske, 59, was found unresponsive in his cell in the Grove Unit of the prison around 5:15 p.m. on that date.

Hall was identified shortly after the incident and was charged with first-degree murder. He had been serving a sentence for third-degree burglary since April 2019.

During the trial, Hall’s defense to his crime was that he was sexually abused as a child and he was angry that Daleske — who had been convicted of several sex crimes against minors — was going to be released “soon.”

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
John Daleske, of Branson, Missouri, brother of murder victim Thomas Daleske, reads a victim impact statement during the sentencing hearing for Eric T. Hall, 45, on Friday morning.

Hall testified that he specifically targeted Daleske and other sex offenders in the prison. He said he had a list of others he initially planned to kill as well, but did not go through with.

During Friday’s sentencing hearing, Hall read aloud a letter he said he planned to send to the American Civil Liberties Union. In the letter, he wrote that he “was an idiot.”

“I was pushed to the limit, forced into stressful situations and I ended up doing some stupid stuff,” Hall wrote.

“It is evident that the defendant blames everyone but himself for his actions,” First Assistant Webster County Attorney Ryan Baldridge said after Hall read his letter.

The victim’s older brother John Daleske, of Branson, Missouri, read a victim impact statement prior to Hall’s sentencing.

“Tom was active in his community,” John Daleske said. His brother opened a business in Warren County. He was a volunteer fire chief and an emergency medical technician and a Boy Scout leader prior to his 2000 conviction for multiple counts of sexual abuse and lascivious acts with a child. While incarcerated, Thomas Daleske completed his college degree and helped train guide dogs, John Daleske said.

John Daleske said he was the one who turned his brother in to authorities when he learned about his attacks on children, but he kept in touch while Thomas Daleske was serving his sentence.

“We had hopes that he would be able to come back to society as a positive influence,” John Daleske said, addressing Hall in court. “You took that away. He was not given the chance to prove it.”

“Tom had a family, and we loved him,” said Reina Daleske, wife of John Daleske.

The next step for the Daleske family is going to be learning to forgive, John Daleske said.

“Your conviction did not bring joy nor celebration,” he said to Hall. “It felt like even more of a waste.”

As a Class A felony, first-degree murder carries a mandatory life sentence under Iowa law. District Court Judge John Flynn also ordered that Hall pay $150,000 in victim restitution to Thomas Daleske’s next of kin.

“There’s no winners here,” Flynn said, addressing Hall for the final time. “I’ve heard you several times now talk about what led you to do this … As we all know, vigilante justice is not allowed here in the state of Iowa. You’ll have to live with that the rest of your life.”

Defense attorney Paul Rounds also told the court that his client has instructed him to file a notice of appeal and have the case transferred to the Iowa Court of Appeals.

Hall is serving his sentence at the Iowa State Penitentiary at Fort Madison.


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