Brian Fullhart found Guilty of Murder in the First Degree

CRESCO - In the trial of the State of Iowa v. Brian Allen Fullhart, deliberations took the jury around one-and-a-half hours, which included jurors’ lunch break, to come back with a verdict of guilty of murder in the first degree.
Family members of his victim and wife, Zoanne Fullhart, were relieved by the verdict, which could have gone in another direction (murder in the second).
In addition, at least six off-duty law enforcement officers were there to show their support of the victim’s family. Also present were five law enforcement officers from Cresco and Howard County in uniform.
After Fullhart was escorted back to the jail, Sheriff Mike Miner stated, “I’m glad it’s all over. Everything went smoothly. Everybody did as they were told. I felt it was the right verdict. The quick turn-around shows the state presented a good case.”
The verdict came after a morning of directions to the jury given by Judge Linda Fangman, First Judicial District and closing statements by the State and defense and a rebuttal statement by the State.
The four main elements jurors were told to answer before turning in a verdict were:
1. On or about the 28th day of February, 2018, the defendant shot Zoanne Fullhart.
2. Zoanne Fullhart died as a result of being shot.
3. The defendant acted with malice aforethought.
4. The defendant acted willfully, deliberately, premeditatedly and with a specific intent to kill Zoanne Fullhart.
Scott Brown, assistant attorney general of Iowa, reminded jurors that Brian Fullhart was on a slow boil in regards to Zoey. “She didn’t lose her life on Feb. 28, 2018, it was taken from her. She was dead before she hit the floor.”
He said there was no dispute on who killed Zoanne. “He admitted he did it on the stand,” Brown said. There is no dispute on the cause. “She died as a result of being shot with a contact wound to the head.”
Brown then said there was malice aforethought in regards to Fullhart. He made threats at least three separate times in the days leading up to the shooting. “People may say, ‘He’s a talker. He didn’t mean what he said.’ But when he got the opportunity to put a bullet in Zoey’s head, he did it!”
Also showing malice aforethought, Fullhart made her get on her knees. “Why? He’s got her on her knees. She’s in a vulnerable position. He didn’t just shoot her. He put the gun against her skull. How can you say that’s anything but evil? Even if she was mad at him, she didn’t deserve that.”
The fourth element about willful, deliberate and premeditated was also discussed by Brown. 
He talked about the interview taken after Fullhart was taken into custody. At times he threw a chair and pushed law enforcement. “This is what Zoey had to live with. When he’s angry, he confronts the officers. He says he wants to box them.”
Going back to the shooting, Brown says, “He makes the decision to pull the trigger . . . the gun doesn’t fire by itself. Then he called Jo (Zoanne’s mother).” Fullhart said he wanted to call his mom and gave Jo Olson’s number. 
Brown asks, “Can you think of anything more cruel? He (Fullhart) looks at (Officer) Reger (in the interview room) and said, ‘Huh. She doesn’t even know she’s dead.’”
He closed by saying, “The judge gave you the sole job of finding the truth and doing justice. Justice is finding Brian Fullhart guilty of murder in the first degree.”
Matthew Hoffey, Waterloo Public Defender, then gave his closing remarks. 
“You won’t hear a defense attorney say this very often, but Brian Fullhart is not guilty of first degree murder. He’s guilty of second degree murder.”
He brought up the defense’s theory of Fullhart suffering from psychosis at the time of the event. “He was psychotic. He is psychotic.
“Consider the defense of diminished responsibility. In opening, I asked for involuntary manslaughter, but after the instructions were given, it is either murder in the first or murder in the second.”
He explained, “Their relationship was up and down. He said, ‘You’re dead’ but then they slept together that night.”
Hoffey reminded jurors, “He had all the time in the world to leave (after the murder). He stayed there. He laid with his wife’s body. Remember the video after his arrest. That is Brian’s state of mind 7-8 hours after the incident.”
He concluded, “Brian Fullhart is responsible for the death of Zoanne Fullhart. The question is, were Brian’s actions premeditative”
Brown gave another 10-minute synopsis of the trial.
Fullhart will be sentenced in the coming weeks. Normally, murder in the first degree carries a life sentence. Second degree murder usually is possible parole after 35 years.
The family will likely not have to worry about Fullhart ever getting out of jail.


Cresco Times

Phone: 563-547-3601
Fax: 563-547-4602

Cresco TPD
214 N. Elm Street
Cresco, IA 52136

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