Guilty: Jury convicts Marshalltown man of first-degree murder
A Marshalltown man charged with first-degree murder and reckless use of a firearm was found guilty of both crimes on Wednesday afternoon after several hours of jury deliberation.
Mustafa Muhammad, 31, had pleaded not guilty to all charges related to the death of Blake Thomas, arguing that he had acted in self-defense when he shot Thomas six times on March 15, 2020, following an argument outside of an after hours party on West Linn Street at approximately 3:30 a.m.
The jury began deliberations on Wednesday morning at a temporary courtroom at the Orpheum Theater, and the verdict was read aloud in open court that afternoon.
While the defense and the prosecution didn’t dispute the fact that Muhammad had shot and killed Thomas, the key question was whether or not Muhammad had acted in self-defense.
Marshalltown Police Chief Mike Tupper said that when the investigation originally began, however, the culprit wasn’t immediately apparent.
“Our cops and detectives and the crime scene personnel did such a great job of building a strong case against Mr. Muhammad, that they had to admit that they did it,” Tupper said. “All they had left was coming up with an excuse, and it was a flimsy excuse. The jury didn’t buy it, and we got a guilty verdict.”
Assistant Marshall County Attorney Jordan Gaffney, who represented the state, argued that Thomas was unarmed and “trash talking” Muhammad. Chief Public Defender Michael Adams argued that Thomas posed an immediate threat to Muhammad’s life, and the state failed to prove Muhammad was not justified.
Muhammad’s sentencing date is currently being determined.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Thomas family,” Tupper said. “It’s unfortunate we had to go through this with them, but we were happy that justice was served.”
Contact Trevor Babock at 641-753-6611