LE MARS, Iowa -- Shannon Bogh's death was the culmination of events that percolated in Thomas Bibler's mind all day and built into a final act in which he fatally stabbed her, Plymouth County Attorney Darin Raymond said.
During his closing arguments in Bibler's murder trial Friday, Raymond said that Bibler had been frustrated throughout the day. First he was told that he wouldn't be able to see his children. Then he spent the evening getting picked on by a co-worker in a hot restaurant kitchen.
When Bibler was sent home early from work, he was mad, Raymond said, and he took it out on his sister, the one person who usually helped him out.
"He could have done any number of things to express his frustration to her," Raymond said. "What does he choose to do? He chooses to take a knife and plunge it into another human being's chest."
Raymond's case was based on insinuations, public defender Billy Oyadare argued, and the trial's main theme is that the state failed to prove its case.
"If (Bibler) was stressed, why did he not attack the people causing the stress? Why did he go to the only person who was his source of support? It makes absolutely no sense," Oyadare said. "The state has tried to build a house of straw on unstable ground. The state has no case against Mr. Bibler."
Bibler, 36, is charged with first-degree murder, willful injury and going armed with intent for the June 11, 2016, stabbing death of Bogh. He is accused of stabbing Bogh outside her Le Mars home while talking to her. An autopsy showed that Bogh, 27, died of internal bleeding after a major vein in her chest was cut by a sharp object.
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Friday's closing remarks came after a three-month break in the trial. After the defense rested its case at the conclusion of five days of testimony on Aug. 1, District Judge Jeffrey Neary suspended the case while Raymond decided whether to call a rebuttal expert witness. On Friday, Raymond said he had no further witnesses and rested his case.
Bibler has waived his right to a jury trial, and Neary will decide the case.
Oyadare has claimed an intoxication defense. Bibler testified that he took the prescribed sleep aid Ambien and other prescription drugs the night his sister died. He said he didn't remember any of the events leading up to her death.
A psychologist testified for the defense that the sleeping drug could have caused Bibler to slip into a hypnotic state and would explain his memory loss.
Raymond dismissed the intoxication defense, saying that Bibler did not have a prescription for Ambien and never mentioned to anyone that he had taken it until months after his arrest. A psychologist Raymond called to testify earlier in the trial said several studies have linked Ambien to sudden violent acts, including homicide, committed by users who had no memory of committing them.
Neary said he intended to reach a verdict as soon as possible. Once he has decided the case, he said, he would schedule a hearing to announce the verdict.
If found guilty of first-degree murder, Bibler would face a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole.