Iowa Woman Receives Big Money for Wrongful Jailing
An Iowa woman has received a payout from a central Iowa county after being in jail for several weeks, nearly half of that time after her alibi was allegedly confirmed.
According to The Messenger, Jennifer Pritchard of Fort Dodge was arrested on September 28, 2019. She was charged with driving a vehicle from which her boyfriend Jacob Adams had been accused of firing shots on September 19.
Brianna Purcell told Hamilton County deputies that shots were fired toward a camper and car near Stratford, Iowa at around 11 a.m. that morning. She initially told authorities she was in the camper at the time and didn't see where the shots came from. However, she insisted Adams had fired the shots. Authorities say she later said she saw both Adams fire the shots, and Pritchard driving the vehicle they came from.
Arrest warrants were issued on attempted murder charges for both Adams and Pritchard, despite the whereabouts of the vehicle allegedly being confirmed to have been elsewhere at the time of the incident.
Adams was arrested on September 23. On the day of his arrest, The Messenger says Adams told Hamilton County Sheriff's Deputy David Turpen,
“he had no idea how Jen Pritchard was brought into this incident as he had not spoken to her in several weeks.”
Pritchard was arrested on September 28, 2019. The next day she told Sheriff Doug Timmons that she wasn't involved in the incident. She went on to say she'd spent all of September 13 in Fort Dodge, more than 30 miles away. The next day one of Pritchard's co-workers confirmed what she had told authorities.
On October 11, the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office received surveillance video The Messenger says "allegedly verified Pritchard’s alibi."
Pritchard wasn't released from jail until October 21. That's 23 days after she was arrested, 28 days after the other person accused said she couldn't have been involved, and 10 days after the surveillance video was turned over.
Charges against both Pritchard and Adams were dropped on November 25, 2019.
A lawsuit was filed by Pritchard and her attorney in 2021. The lawsuit named the defendants as Hamilton County, Sheriff Doug Timmons, and Sheriff's Deputies David Turpen and Gary Johnson.
The lawsuit has been settled out of court with Pritchard receiving $425,000. The settlement admitted no wrongdoing.
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