A judge found a Centerville man guilty of two felonies, but acquitted him of attempted murder, in a police officer assault case.
Judge Greg Milani ruled Tuesday that Kaleb Darrell Morrow, 39, of Centerville, was not guilty of the state’s top charge of attempted murder in the case.
Morrow was, however, found guilty of assault on a police officer, a class D felony; interference with official acts causing serious injury, a class D felony; and first-degree harassment, an aggravated misdemeanor.
Sentencing was set for Jan. 21, 2020. Morrow faces a maximum penalty of up to 12 years in prison for the three charges. The court ruled he was not eligible for release prior to the sentencing.
The charges stemmed from a March 17 encounter between Morrow and law enforcement behind Centerville High School. The interaction was captured on Centerville Police Officer Gary Buckallew’s body camera. Video from the camera was released publicly a day after the incident by the Centerville Police Department, following a public records request by the Daily Iowegian.
Buckallew and Morrow, both veterans, were conversational and seemed calm at the beginning of the video. Morrow sat in the back of Buckallew’s squad car without handcuffs while Buckallew searched for Morrow’s records and through his coat.
A dispatcher informed Buckallew over his radio that Morrow had an active warrant for his arrest. When Buckallew informed Morrow that he had to be arrested, Morrow became violent. He made repeated threats to Buckallew’s life, before eventually lunging at him from the police car. The struggle continued onto the ground nearby where Morrow began punching Buckallew while on top of him.
An off-duty officer, Jeremy Cole, was nearby and watching the encounter. He assisted, pulling Morrow off of Buckallew and helping to carry out the arrest. Once Morrow was arrested there were no other altercations.
Buckallew suffered injuries to his right elbow and left knee, as well as a scrape on his neck. He received medical attention and was released.
The case was decided after a one-day bench trial on Oct. 24. Morrow had pursued a diminished responsibility defense, which is an argument that defendants can not be held criminally liable because they have a lack of ability to inform a specific intent. The defense can be used when the state must prove a defendant had a specific intent to do something in proving the case against them.
Milani ruled that Morrow could form a specific intent, but that intent was not to kill Buckallew. Rather, Milani concluded, Morrow intended to seriously injury the officer.