News

Pedersen murder trial remains on hold at this time

Washington County Attorney John Gish reported that there has been no change in the status of accused murderer Clarence Dean Pedersen and no date has been scheduled for the continuatoin of the trial against him.

In November 2018, Judge Crystal Cronk ruled that Pedersen is not competent to stand trial for the murder of Edward Jones and was remanded for restorative treatment. According to the filing Cronk issued, the trial against Pedersen has been suspended. He was placed at the Iowa Medical and Classification Center Forensic Psychiatric Hospital in Coralville. A state psychiatrist has been ordered to provide any medical treatment necessary including the administration of medications. Reports will be made to the court every 30 days from the date of admission as to Pedersen’s progress. The ruling also said that on the conclusion of the restorative treatment, Pedersen will be evaluated for competency with a report to be filed with the court.

“The evaluation process is on going,” Gish said. “The judge asked for monthly reports from the evaluators. Those reports are confidential and I can’t comment on them.”

Gish said he had no opinion whether the trial will be able to continue.

Oakdale serves as Iowa’s medical classification facility, where anyone going to prison goes to be evaluated before it is determined where they will be placed. It is also a medium-security prison. If Pedersen is restored to competency to stand trial, the state will proceed with the criminal charges.

During the hearing to determine if Pedersen was fit to stand trial, Johnson County Public Defense Attorney Peter Persaud, who was defending Pedersen, said he did not believe Pedersen was fit to stand trial and could not assist in his own defense. Persaud commented that Pedersen had been taken off antipsychotic medication he had taken for many years. There were also reports of Pedersen being confused. He reported Pedersen did not know his own name and referred to himself as “Band Deano.”

Pedersen was arrested July 12 and charged with first-degree murder of Jones, 70. At the time he was Jones’ roommate. Washington Police responded to a 911 call at approximately 7:56 a.m., Wednesday, July 11, 2018 at an apartment complex located at 601 W. Adams St., later identified as Pedersen’s home. At the residence, Jones was found deceased. Several pieces of evidence pointing to Pedersen being involved with Jones’ death were recovered during the investigation, including a knife found at the scene. Pedersen also allegedly had a note in a lock box that read, “kill Ed.”

A previous murder conviction against Pedersen was overturned by the Iowa Supreme Court after it was found he had not been competent to stand trial. Pedersen was charged with the murder of Kent Nelson, his brother-in-law, on Dec. 30, 1978, after Nelson was found dead of a gunshot wound in Pedersen’s parents’ home in southwest Iowa.