Lafayette man sentenced for Iowa murder

A Lafayette man accused of killing a woman and burning her body in Iowa has been sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Posted: Apr 23, 2019 12:29 PM

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP/WLFI) - A Lafayette man accused of killing a woman and burning her body in Iowa has been sentenced to 30 years in prison. Phillip Williams was sentenced Monday in Fort Dodge.

He had pleaded guilty to attempted murder and abuse of a human corpse. He and Mackenzie Knigge were charged with first-degree murder in the August 2017 slaying of Jessica Gomez in Knigge's apartment.

Prosecutors lowered the murder charge against Williams in return for his pleas. Knigge's trial is scheduled to begin June 10.

Williams trial first was moved to Mason City because of pretrial publicity in Fort Dodge. Then it was moved to Cedar Rapids after Williams objected to the lack of black people in the Mason City jury pool, saying that just one person out of 130 potential jurors was self-identified as black. His attorney told the judge that Williams "has a legitimate interest in the representation of African-Americans on the jury panel." He is African-American.

Williams also admitted to Lafayette police that he comitted an unrelated armed robbery in Dec. 2017.

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