Lawyer says friend shot to death trying to prevent suicide - Quad-Cities Online: Iowa

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Lawyer says friend shot to death trying to prevent suicide

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Posted: Wednesday, August 19, 1998 1:00 am | Updated: 1:43 pm, Mon Apr 21, 2014.

FORT DODGE, Iowa (AP) -- A Fort Dodge man accused of the shooting death of a longtime friend was trying to kill himself when the other man tried to stop him, attorneys said.

Larry Joe Artzer, 48, is charged with first-degree murder in the Feb. 23 shooting death of William L. Kolacia, 46, outside Woody's Bar.

In opening arguments Tuesday, Webster County Attorney Ron Robertson told of a suicide plan gone awry, that ended with an unfortunate victim who ``simply got in the way.''

Robertson told jurors that Artzer had been drinking with his wife, Barb Artzer, and other friends and that Artzer and his wife weren't getting along. He said Artzer left the bar and, worried about her husband, Barb Artzer asked a friend to check on him when Kolacia volunteered to go instead.

``It was a fatal mistake,'' Robertson said.

He said that in the parking lot Artzer pointed a 22-caliber revolver at Kolacia's chest and pulled the trigger, that a single bullet ``destroyed his heart,'' and that ``death was inevitable.''

Robertson said three ``ear witnesses'' heard a shot and saw Artzer lower the gun and then turn and walk away. He said the three heard Artzer say, ``I told you I would shoot you,'' before leaving.

Defense attorney Jim Koll said Artzer had been contemplating suicide and that he had a ``long history of alcoholism'' and a ``long history of depression.''

``There was no animosity between (Artzer) and Kolacia,'' Koll said.

He said Artzer knew that he was going to kill himself that day. He said he ``just decided to give up,'' but when he went outside, Kolacia came out after him.

``The three people sitting inside a house ... will testify that they heard no argument'' between the two men, Koll said, and that they saw ``Larry Artzer just turned and walk away. He didn't run, he didn't scream.''

He said Artzer had blacked out that night, but then knew something went wrong.

``When (Artzer) realized something had happened, he went to his family and then told police,'' Koll said.

Opening arguments followed more than five hours of jury selection.

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