Gazette Daily News Briefing, November 30


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This is Stephen Schmidt from the Gazette digital news desk and I’m here with your update for Wednesday, November 30.

The sun is back, but ack it's cold! According to the National Weather Service it will be sunny with a high near 28 degrees in the Cedar Rapids area on Wednesday. It will be breezy again, with wind gusts as high as 35 mph during the day before settling down at night. On Wednesday night it will be mostly clear, with a low of around 16 degrees.

A Cedar Rapids man who faced a voluntary manslaughter charge for fatally shooting another man during a fight is free after the charge was dropped by the Linn County Attorney’s Office.

Assistant Linn County Attorney Molly Edwards, in a motion filed earlier this month, asked a judge to dismiss the charge against James Siegel, 42, based on Iowa’s “stand your ground” law, and said there is insufficient evidence to prove the manslaughter charge.

Siegel initially was charged with first-degree murder. But a few weeks later, it was amended to voluntary manslaughter for the fatal shooting of Ty John Casey, 39, on May 13 in northeast Cedar Rapids. At that time, additional investigation revealed a history between the two men, and the crime scene and autopsy supported the lesser charge, according to the amended complaint.

Siegel’s actions resulted from a “sudden, violent and irresistible passion” as a result of serious provocation — elements of voluntary manslaughter — by Casey, the amended complaint stated. Linn County Attorney Nick Maybanks at that time was asked about the history between Siegel and Casey, but he said he couldn’t provide details.

Iowa’s future as the first state where Democrats cast their preference for president will likely be decided this week.

The Democratic National Committee’s Rules and Bylaws Committee will meet Thursday through Saturday in Washington, D.C., and the committee is expected to vote on the party’s presidential nominating calendar, potentially knocking Iowa off the first-in-the-nation spot it has held for half a century. The committee will make a recommendation to the full DNC at the party’s next meeting.

While a vote on the calendar is expected to come up, Scott Brennan, an Iowan who sits on the rules committee, said the committee has not yet received an agenda for this week’s meeting.

Iowa’s caucuses have led the pack in presidential preference contests for both parties since 1972, drawing media attention and millions of dollars in campaigning from presidential hopefuls.

This year, the national Democrats’ rules committee voted to open up the early window, requiring states to apply if they want to hold a presidential primary or caucus before the first Tuesday in March. The current early states are Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.

Iowa is among 16 states and Puerto Rico that applied this summer to be in the early window. The DNC will select up to five states that will be allowed to hold contests early. The rules committee said it would favor states that are diverse, competitive in the general election, and can run transparent and accessible contests. Iowa is around 85 percent white and has been trending increasingly Republican in recent elections.

Iowa quarterback Alex Padilla entered the transfer portal Tuesday as a graduate transfer.

Padilla played in two football games for Iowa this season, completing 21 of 43 passes while throwing one touchdown and two interceptions. One appearance was after starter Spencer Petras had two interceptions and a fumble in one half, and the other was after Petras suffered an injury.

Padilla’s limited playing time was despite Petras struggling for much of the year. The fifth-year senior completed 50 percent or fewer of his passes in five games this season, but he started every game.

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