November 7, 2016
Jurors on Friday decided Jeremy Werneburg, 37, of Carroll, is guilty of assault rather than attempted murder for striking a man with his car in February.
The difference in punishment for the crimes is quite large: up to 25 years in prison for attempted murder versus 30 days in jail for assault.
Werneburg has been jailed for months since his arrest and might not have to serve another day for the conviction if a judge gives him credit for that time.
Werneburg claimed he was trying to escape a hostile confrontation when he accidentally struck Kyle Freese with his car on Feb. 14, after he saw Freese with Werneburg’s ex-girlfriend.
The county prosecutor says Werneburg, 37, of Carroll, was trying to kill Freese, 31, of Wall Lake.
Freese and two other witnesses testified that Werneburg deliberately drove his car twice toward Freese in Carnarvon, about 14 miles northwest of Carroll.
Werneburg struck Freese once, pushing the man’s leg through a wall of Carnarvon Inn. Freese had a dozen surgeries to repair his leg.
Freese testified that Werneburg tried to hit him again as he crawled away on the ground but struck a parked pickup truck instead.
Werneburg said his car’s brakes were faulty and that they locked up as he was trying to escape a confrontation and forced him to strike Freese.
Jurors could be heard at times in the courtroom as they deliberated in private, and they questioned the testimony of at least one of the prosecution’s witnesses. They made their decision after about three hours of deliberation.
Werneburg said he didn’t know he injured Freese when he drove away. He said he learned of a warrant for his arrest the next day and intended to turn himself in but didn’t. He was arrested three days later in Fort Dodge, where he resisted and was subdued with a stun gun.
Werneburg is still held in jail for another felony criminal mischief charge. He is accused of destroying jail equipment after his arrest.
Court documents show he was suffering from methamphetamine withdrawal in the jail.
He also has a pending felony burglary charge in Carroll County for going into a rural Lake City house in December and stealing clothing.
He was arrested about a mile away, wearing the stolen clothing. He faces up to five years in prison if convicted in that case.