Ten years before Thomas Hansen is accused of fatally shooting his companion Sharon Gerot in Riverside, she played a role in the breakup of his marriage, according to testimony offered before a judge on Wednesday.
Hansen’s former wife Sandra Hansen testified during his murder trial on Wednesday that she and her husband never had any altercations during their 43-year marriage. But, when pressed by prosecutors outside the presence of the jury, Sandra Hansen said their marriage broke up because her husband told her he was seeing someone else.
Prosecutors asked Sandra Hansen about a protection order her husband filed against her. At first, Sandra Hansen was hesitant to discuss the details. But she eventually said that after their separation, she went to their house in Riverside against her husband’s requests and found the other woman there.
Sandra Hansen said the woman was Gerot. Hansen said she asked Gerot to leave, and Thomas Hansen told Gerot that she didn’t have to, according to testimony. There was no physical altercation at the house, and Sandra Hansen said she complied with the protective order.
A judge didn’t allow that testimony to be heard by jurors because the protective order was eventually dismissed. Instead, most of the testimony jurors heard on Wednesday praised Thomas Hansen for being of high moral character and having a strong work ethic.
His four sons testified that their father was never violent, and they never saw him fire a gun. Friends also testified on his behalf, including one woman who said Hansen fought to keep one of her lamb’s alive. She said Hansen created a cast for the lamb, and it recovered and was taken to market like the rest of the grown sheep.
Hansen, 72, of Riverside, is accused of shooting Gerot, 54, with a semi-automatic handgun on May 1, 2011, according to a criminal complaint. Investigators said the pair had been living together for years and had been arguing earlier that day, according to court records.
The couple was planning to go work at Yellowstone National Park, investigators reported.
Hansen retired as Johnson County’s emergency management coordinator in 2007. He worked for the Iowa City Fire Department before that.
During open statements, prosecutor Andrew Prosser told the 14-person jury that Hansen, who lived with Gerot, was overhead after the shooting saying that he “just couldn’t take it anymore.” Prosser said evidence will show what type of gun Hansen used to kill Gerot, where he was standing when he fired the fatal shot and how long Hansen had to “meditate” the killing.
But, defense attorney John Robertson, told jurors that not every killing is first-degree murder and that jurors should keep their minds open as they hear the evidence.