Feb. 2004 – Court awards $11.5 million to wife of slain farmer

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Associated Press. Associate Press Staff Writer. February 2004

Court awards $11.5 million to wife of slain farmer

DES MOINES, Iowa The wife of a slain Warren County farmer has been awarded one of the biggest punitive damage awards in Iowa history.

Ronda Lyon received an eleven-point-five-million judgment today in her wrongful death lawsuit against Rodney Heemstra, who killed her husband Tom Lyon in 2003 after a long-standing dispute.

Heemstra, a 46-year-old Milo farmer, is serving a life sentence in Anamosa State Prison for shooting his neighbor and burying him in a cistern a quarter mile from the killing.

Heemstra has appealed his 2004 conviction to the Supreme Court, arguing that he didn't get a fair trial because he was denied access to Tom Lyon's medical records.

He says the records were sealed by the judge during the trial and could have shown that Tom Lyon had uncontrollable anger that contributed to the shooting.

Heemstra claims that he acted in self defense and his appeal notes that Tom Lyon was being treated for anger problems within months of the shooting.