Judge denies grand jury for unusual Tipton assault case

Pretrial conference for Licher set Dec. 28 on false imprisonment, assault charges

Vanessa Miller
Published: December 5 2012 | 8:15 am - Updated: 1 April 2014 | 2:58 am in

A Cedar County judge has denied a Tipton man’s request to send his assault case to a grand jury, despite the suspect’s accusations that prosecutors rushed to judgment in his case and ignored crucial witness accounts.

The judge’s ruling in James Licher’s assault case means the charges against him will stand, and his case will proceed to a pretrial conference on Dec. 28.

Licher, 31, faces charges of possession of a firearm by a felon, two counts of assault while displaying a weapon and false imprisonment after police said he confronted two men while they were having sex with a woman he knew and brandished a gun.

Licher has argued that he was rescuing a friend who appeared to be motionless when he walked in on the threesome and too drunk to consent to the sex act. But prosecutors argued they have evidence the sex was consensual, making Licher’s reaction an assault.

During a hearing in Cedar County last month, Licher’s defense attorney, William Kutmus, argued that investigators have ignored the woman’s statements that she was too drunk to remember what happened that early morning of Aug. 24.

Hours after the sex act, the woman went to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics for a rape examination and submitted a urine sample, Kutmus said. Offices told her they were investigating the incident as a possible sexual assault but instead, Kutmus said, the detectives made a “rush to judgment.”

Before the lab results could be returned, Licher was arrested on suspicion of assault, and Kutmus argued last month in court that his client is “no criminal.”

“He was a Good Samaritan,” he said, adding that a grand jury should be allowed to hear the evidence in the case. “Police believed the two men and ignored the science.”

Cedar County Attorney Jeffrey Renander has explained to the judge that three unbiased witnesses in the case have provided his office with enough evidence to proceed on the charges against Licher.

The woman’s daughter reported seeing her mom outside the bar and “perfectly able to walk and respond,” according to Renander. Another person who was in the house that Licher shared with the victim that night told investigators that Licher, a convicted felon, was showing off guns, Renander said.

That person also reported hearing the woman having sex and making “pleasure sounds,” he said. The third witness was a video camera mounted in the woman’s home, which doubles as her business. The video shows the woman flirting with one of her accused attackers and leaning in for a kiss, Renander said.

If convicted, Licher could be sentenced to time in prison.

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