Jeremy Charles Graves, 26, of Davenport, pleaded guilty Friday to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 15 years in prison for running over Sandra Tate, 43, of Rock Island, last September.
In exchange for his guilty plea, counts of first-degree murder, aggravated battery of a police officer, failure to report a fatal accident, and a second charge of second-degree murder were dismissed, records state.
Mr. Graves, who has been incarcerated since the incident, will receive day-for-day credit and credit for time served.
According to prior court testimony, Mr. Graves went to a home in the 900 block of 15th Street, Rock Island, on Sept. 19, to pick up his child. When residents declined to let him in, Mr. Graves allegedly broke in through a back door, and a fight started that spilled into the yard.
Mr. Graves then got into a running vehicle parked on 15th Street, and began driving in circles.
Witnesses called police, and responding officers testified they heard people screaming as they arrived. A camera in a police squad car recorded Mr. Graves aiming the vehicle towards a group of people in the street.
Ms. Tate, who was standing in the group, reportedly shoved several children out of the way before being hit by the oncoming vehicle.
Mr. Graves drove from the scene, and eventually crashed into a trailer on 9th Street, where he was arrested.
Ms. Tate died the following day at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Iowa City.
Rock Island County Assistant State's Attorney Jim Wozniak and defense attorney Herbert Schultz said they were satisfied with the second-degree murder conviction, which held a range of penalties of four to 20 years.
"This is really a case of intent," Mr. Schultz said. "It's kind of a classic law school type of question; it's not a question of 'if' someone is guilty, it's 'of what?'"
Second-degree murder implies the act was not premeditated and may have been the result of heightened emotions. The attorneys said Mr. Graves appeared angry and injured after the Sept. 19 fight.
"When tempers flair and emotions can't be controlled, bad things happen, and this is a perfect example of that," Mr. Schultz said.
"This was one where I was very confident that I could get a second-degree murder conviction," Mr. Wozniak said. "I was not that confident that I would get a first-degree murder conviction."
He said that if the case had gone to trial, other factors, such as the fight or whether Mr. Graves had been intoxicated, might have prompted a judge or jury to consider a lesser conviction, such as reckless homicide or involuntary manslaughter.
"Obviously, nothing that could happen will bring their loved one back," Mr. Wozniak said, adding that Ms. Tate's death was even more difficult on her relatives because many of them knew Mr. Graves before the incident.
"They not only lost a loved one, but also lost someone they knew."
Today is Thursday, April 24, the 114th day of 2014. There are 251 days left in the year.
1864 -- 150 years ago: We learn that it is a contemplation to start a paper mill in Rock Island during the summer by a gentleman from the East. 1889 -- 125 years ago: The gates of Oklahoma were swung open at noon today, and a throng of more than 30,000 settlers started over its soil. 1914 -- 100 years ago: The Iowa Coliseum Co. was incorporated with $40,000 capital and planned a building on 4th Street between Warren and Green streets in Davenport. 1939 -- 75 years ago: Plans are being discussed for resurfacing the streets in the entire downtown district of Rock Island. 1964 -- 50 years ago: Some 45 jobs will be created at J.I. Case Co.'s Rock Island plant in a expansion of operations announced yesterday afternoon at the firm's headquarters in Racine, Wis. 1989 -- 25 years ago: Gardeners and farmers cheered, but not all Quad-Citians found joy Saturday as more than an inch of rain fell on the area. Motorists faced dangerous, rain-slick roads as the water activated grease and grime that had built up during dry weather.