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Three charged in Marshalltown murder

Benda, 39, died Tuesday from gunshot to the head

February 8, 2012
BY DAVID ALEXANDER - Staff Writer ( , Times-Republican

Three Marshalltown men face first-degree murder charges after allegedly shooting a man in the head Monday night.

Steven Etzen, 27, Shawn Doehler, 23, and Thomas (TJ) Vaughn, 28, were all charged with first-degree murder and first-degree robbery Tuesday.

The trio allegedly shot Benjamin Benda, 39, of Marshalltown, in the head Monday just before 7 p.m. in what police suspect was a robbery gone awry at 19 1/2 N. Center St. #2 - right across the street from the Marshalltown Police Station.

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Benda died from his wounds at the University of Iowa Hospitals in Iowa City Tuesday morning just before noon. Police said he was shot with a handgun.

"It sounds like it was over a jacket," Benda's brother, Donnie Benda, of Marshalltown, said. "It's just crazy."

Benda was a father of three, he said.

With the help of Osceola Police Department, Clarke County Sheriff's Office, Iowa State Patrol and the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, police were able to apprehend Etzen and Doehler in connection with the shooting Tuesday morning, said Capt. Brian Batterson of the Marshalltown Police Department. Etzen and Doehler had fled to Osceola following the incident, he said.

All three men have criminal histories according to court records.

Etzen pleaded guilty to a fifth-degree theft charge in 2003. Doehler was charged with going armed with intent in 2008 - a Class D felony punishable by 10 years in prison. That charge, however, was pleaded down to an aggravated misdemeanor, according to court documents. Vaughn was found guilty of fifth-degree theft in 2007.

Police are holding Vaughn in the Marshall County Jail, and have taken another woman, Melissa Andrews, 44, of Marshalltown, into custody as a material witness. Etzen and Vaughn were being transported to Marshall County from Osceola.

Batterson said police are still actively interviewing witnesses and more charges may be forthcoming.

"We don't believe that there is anybody else at large," Batterson said. "We have reason to believe that there is no threat to the community."



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