Bloomfield placed under house arrest in Minnesota

Man, accused of wife's 1997 murder in Iowa City, needs access to healthcare, lawyer says

Published: March 18 2014 | 1:10 pm - Updated: 1 April 2014 | 9:48 am in

John Bloomfield will be allowed to return to Minnesota until he goes to trial for first-degree murder.

According to online court records, Judge Paul Miller has released Bloomfield, 73, formerly of Iowa City to the custody of the Iowa Department of Correctional Services. Bloomfield will be allowed to return to his home in St. Paul, Minn., where he will remain on house arrest.

The order comes in response to a request from Bloomfield's attorney, Leon Spies, who said at a hearing last month that his client may have less than a year to live. Spies said at a hearing on Feb. 20 that Bloomfield's health is deteriorating at the Iowa Medical and Classification Center, where he is receiving medical care for his various ailments, including metastatic prostate cancer, which has spread to his ribs, vertebrae and lymph nodes. He also suffers from diabetes, carpal tunnel syndrome, a sleep disorder and fatigue.

Spies said he and Bloomfield are "heartened" by Miller's order, adding that it will make his client more comfortable, more accessible to his attorney and provide him with better medical care.

"John has been relatively inaccessible from being treated at the Iowa Medical and Classification Center," Spies said Tuesday. "He'll be more accessible to me and able to assist more aggressively in his defense."

Bloomfield is accused of killing his wife, 57-year-old Frances Bloomfield in 1997 at the couple's home in Iowa City. She was reported missing by her husband, then a researcher at the University of Iowa, on Sept. 22, 1997. Three days later, Winnebago County, Ill. authorities found a body bound with pantyhose and wrapped in plastic and duct tape in a ditch near Rockford.

Authorities believed Frances Bloomfield had been strangled in her Iowa City home. Court documents released in 1997 revealed investigators who responded to the Bloomfield home found blood stains in two bedrooms on the second floor of the home, as well as a mark that indicated Bloomfield was dragged through the hallway. Her car was later discovered at Newark, N.J., International Airport.

John Bloomfield told authorities he was in the Chicago area returning from a business trip at the time of his wife’s death. However, police said Bloomfield was unable to sufficiently account for the time when he would have been driving. Authorities now say they have DNA and hair evidence connecting Bloomfield to the murder.

Bloomfield moved from Iowa City shortly after his wife’s death and had been living in St. Paul, Minn. before being arrested in November.

The state resisted Spies motion to have his client placed under house arrest and electronic monitoring. Assistant Johnson County Attorney Jude Pannell said during the hearing that Bloomfield was "asymptomatic" and accessible to medical care at IMCC and the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. Pannell also noted that no defendant facing a first- or second-degree murder charge in Johnson County since 1997 had ever been released on electronic monitoring.

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

Bloomfield's declining health is the "primary consideration" going forward as the case proceeds, Spies said. For now, Spies said he and his client will go over the state's investigation and prepare to mount their own defense.

"We've got a lot of ground to cover before trial and we'll be as expeditious as we can," he said.

Bloomfield's final pretrial conference is currently scheduled for June 27. His trial is scheduled to begin July 8. If convicted of first-degree murder, Bloomfield would be sentenced to an automatic life sentence.

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