Iowa City murder suspect may have less than a year to live, attorney says

Metastatic prostate cancer among Bloomfield's medical conditions

Published: February 20 2014 | 8:52 am - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 3:54 am in
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UPDATE: John Bloomfield is suffering from an assortment of medical conditions and may have less than a year to live, his attorney said Thursday.

At a detention hearing, Iowa City defense attorney Leon Spies laid out the various afflictions his client, John Bloomfield, is currently suffering from. The most serious disease is metastatic prostate cancer, which has spread to Bloomfield's ribs, vertebrae and lymph nodes. He also suffers from diabetes, carpal tunnel syndrome, a sleep disorder, fatigue and other afflictions that have reduced the 73-year-old’s life expectancy.

“Mr. Bloomfield’s life expectancy could be a short as 12-15 months,” or less, said Spies.

While Bloomfield, accused of murdering his wife in Iowa City in September 1997, is receiving medical care at the Iowa Medical and Classification Center and University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Spies asked Judge Paul Miller to allow his client to be moved back to St. Paul, Minn. and monitored electronically. Bloomfield had been living in St. Paul at the time of his arrest last year.

The state is resisting Spies' proposal on the basis that Bloomfield is currently "asymptomatic" and can receive medical care at IMCC and the UIHC. Furthermore, Assistant Johnson County Attorney Jude Pannell noted during Thursday’s hearing that no defendant facing first or second-degree murder charges in Johnson County since the time of Frances Bloomfield’s murder has ever been released on electronic monitoring.

“The state’s position is that the defendant is receiving the best possible medical care,” Pannell said. “His condition is stable.”

Under Spies’ proposal, Bloomfield would be returned to his apartment in St. Paul and monitored electronically by Minnesota-based General Security Services Corporation. A curfew would be implemented, as would limitations on Bloomfield’s travel. Spies also proposed that a third party, Bloomfield’s friend and former colleague, Jim Kochebar, be tasked with serving as a monitor for Bloomfield. Kochebar has been keeping tabs on Bloomfield’s apartment and finances while he has been in custody and would “wholeheartedly” agree to monitor Bloomfield, Spies said.

Spies also noted that he and his client receive little privacy at IMCC and that his condition is “deteriorating” at the prison. He said Bloomfield’s medical condition makes him unlikely to attempt to flee from custody if released to electronic monitoring. Bloomfield now walks with a cane and hobbled into the courtroom Thursday morning.

“He represents no risk of flight whatsoever,” Spies said. “Granted, this is a serious offense, but he is presumed innocent.”

Pannell also expressed concern about getting Bloomfield to Johnson County for court dates. He said delays could impact the state’s ability to take the case to trial before Bloomfield succumbed to his illnesses.

“One of the purposes of bond is not only to protect the community, but to make sure the defendant is available for proceedings,” he said.

Miller said he would not issue a ruling on Spies’ request on Thursday and would take a couple days to review Bloomfield’s medical records from the University of Minnesota and the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

If convicted of first-degree murder, Bloomfield would face a mandatory sentence of life in prison.

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