LE MARS, Iowa -- A Plymouth County murder trial that began in July and was continued for several months will conclude with a verdict later this month.
District Judge Jeffrey Neary on Wednesday filed notice that he will announce his verdict in Thomas Bibler's case on Jan. 18.
Bibler, 36, of Le Mars, is charged with first-degree murder, willful injury and going armed with intent for the June 11, 2016, stabbing death of his sister, Shannon 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.
Bibler had waived his right to a jury trial and chose to have Neary decide his case.
If found guilty of first-degree murder, Bibler would face a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole.
Testimony began in Plymouth County District Court in July and ended on Aug. 1, when the defense rested its case. Neary then suspended the trial while Plymouth County Attorney Darin Raymond decided whether to call a rebuttal expert witness. The trial resumed on Nov. 1 with no witnesses, and Raymond and public defender Billy Oyadare gave their closing arguments.
Raymond said that Bibler had had a series of frustrating events that culminated with the fatal stabbing of Bogh.
Oyadare claimed an intoxication defense. Bibler testified that he took the prescribed sleep aid Ambien and other prescription drugs the night his sister died and that 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.
A psychologist Raymond called to testify said several studies have linked Ambien to sudden violent acts, including homicide, committed by users who had no memory of committing them.