Local man found not guilty on felony sexual abuse charges
On Friday, a jury found Todd Lillibridge, 49, not guilty on three felony counts of sexual abuse in Marshall County District Court.
His spouse Holli Lillibridge and son Dalton Lillibridge cried tears of joy as other relatives embraced when the final “not guilty” on count three was read by Judge John Haney. Both had testified earlier in the week for the defense.
Many of Todd Lillibridge’s extended family and friends packed the small gallery.
They were joined by Marshall County Attorney’s office staff and personnel from the Marshalltown Police Department.
The jury deliberated for slightly more than one hour Friday.
Todd Lillibridge had been on trial since April 30 after being charged with one felony count of sexual abuse in the second degree and two felony counts of sexual abuse in the third degree, all filed against him by Marshall County prosecutors last year. In testimony made from a remote location last week, the 15-year-old alleged victim testified the defendant initiated sexual abuse starting in elementary school and continued over the years with the most recent incident the evening of Aug. 29, 2018. On Aug. 30 the victim reported to educators and school support staff of the alleged sexual abuse.
Marshalltown police were notified by school personnel later that day. The MPD executed a search warrant the evening of Aug. 30 at the Lillibridge home and collected evidence which the prosecution believed supported the charges.
Shortly thereafter, Lillibridge was formally charged by police. He surrendered at the Marshalltown Police Department, and was taken to jail and released after posting $50,000 cash or surety bond.
However, throughout the eight-day trial defense attorneys Chad Frese and Jennifer Frese of Marshalltown worked aggressively to convince the jury the prosecution’s case was weak and was relying primarily on the testimony of the victim.
In cross-examination of the prosecution’s witnesses, the Freses challenged the veracity of DNA and other evidence found during the Aug. 30 search warrant. The defense also claimed the MPD was not thorough in its investigation and bias by the MPD against Todd Lillibridge.
Conversely Marshall County Attorney Jennifer Miller and Assistant Marshall County Attorney Luke Hansen also worked aggressively to convince jurors the victim’s testimony was truthful.
They called a number of witnesses ranging from lead investigator Det. Dawn Blahnik of the MPD to Criminalist Jennifer Gafne of the Department of Criminal Investigation that Todd Lillibridge’s semen and DNA were found on critical pieces of evidence.
“Your job is to find justice and the truth,” Chad Frese said in his closing argument to the jury Friday. “Considering the lack of evidence against my client, I ask you to submit a verdict of not guilty.”
Contact Mike Donahey at 641-753-6611 or firstname.lastname@example.org