Fall 2008 – Fifth Trial Starts In Farmer’s Death Case

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Fifth Trial Starts In Farmer's Death Case

Lyon Family Accuses Killer Of Ducking $5.6M Civil Judgment

A civil trial in the Rodney Heemstra case began Monday morning. Heemstra served four years in prison for killing neighbor Tom Lyon over a land dispute. Lyon's family was also awarded a $5.6 million wrongful death judgment last year. The Lyon family is suing Heemstra, accusing him and his relatives of conspiring to commit fraud in order to avoid paying the judgment by hiding assets.

Another judge previously awarded Ronda Lyon $5.5 million after Heemstra shot and killed Lyon back in 2003. Both men were tangled up in a land dispute. A jury convicted Heemstra of murder, but the Iowa Supreme Court overtrurned the case and a the second trial ended in a manslaughter conviction.

In court Monday morning, Ronda Lyon's attorney accused "the Heemstra clan" of conspiring to hide assets. He called it "lies, deceit and fraud."

Heemstra's attorney said, "that's quite simply wrong," accusing Lyon's attorney of "hints and allegations" to paint an untrue picture. The civil case is expected to last two weeks. Both Rodney Heemstra and Ronda Lyon are in the packed courtroom. Rodney Heemstra's wife, Berta, was the day's first witness.

In Their Own Words… Don Beattie, Lyon Attorney

"This case is a shocking example that character and integrity on the part of the Heemstra clan was trashed, in favor of lies, deceit, fraud, and attempts to circumvent the law by members of the Heemstra clan.”

“This literally is the Iowa version, Your Honor, of the Bernie Madoff ponzi scheme, directed primarily at one individual: Ronda Lyon, the victim of the killing of her husband, by one of the defendants, Rodney Heemstra.”

“Every member of the Heemstra clan who received assets continued to this day to profess his innocence in a belief that Ronda Lyon is not entitled to a dime.”

“Not one single member of the defendants, or the Heemstra clan, ever expressed any sympathy to Ronda or has ever attempted to satisfy her judgment; rather, {3:58} they engaged in a conspiracy to take the assets of this multi-millionaire family to keep them out of the reach of Rodney Heemstra’s creditors, to include Ronda, and continue to do so today. And, Your Honor, today is judgment day.”

“These financial statements, which are admitted to as being valid, show that there was a net worth of anywhere from $3.7 to $4.2 million dollars. And, Your Honor, literally 60 days later, both Rodney and Berta literally declared paupership.”

“Millions are still missing and these co-conspirators are responsible for it.” In Their Own Words… Joel Baxter, Heemstra Attorney “We intend to present through testimonial and documentary evidence that they are, quite simply wrong.”

“Plaintiffs have an extremely high burden of proof, and throughout this matter have utilized hints, allegations and things left unsaid, to paint a flawed picture. “There’s no evidence that these sales were facilitated in any manner by secret monies ferreted away by Rodney and Berta in January 13 of ’03 or any other time.”

“Plaintiffs would obviously like the Court to view this as an evil plot to deprive plaintiffs of property that they purport belongs to them. However, evidence will demonstrate that through a common sense analysis, were it not for the action of these defendants, there would have been nothing left for plaintiffs. Evidence will show that the family actually preserved property, rather than schemed to deprive plaintiffs.”

“To have fraud you have to have a committed wrong. Common sense review of the evidence would demonstrate that there is no wrong here. Not only is there not a wrong, but the actions of the parties actually preserved property…”