SIOUX CITY -- The judge assigned to preside over the murder case of a man accused of killing a woman in a Sioux City hotel room was the defendant's defense attorney nearly two years ago.
Mindful of the potential perceived conflict, District Judge Zachary Hindman on Wednesday scheduled a hearing for Feb. 15 to give prosecutors and Jordan Henry's defense attorney the chance to voice any concerns about him presiding over the case.
"The court concludes that a hearing in this matter should be set to address, on the record, the circumstances of this prior representation and whether either party wishes to object or to stipulate to the undersigned presiding over this matter," Hindman wrote in his order.
Henry, 29, of Sioux City, is charged in Woodbury County District Court with first-degree murder and first-degree arson for the Jan. 24 death of Elizabeth Bockholt. The 40-year-old Hinton, Iowa, woman's body was found in a burned room at the Wingate by Wyndham, 4716 Southern Hills Drive. An autopsy report says she was strangled.
Henry has yet to enter a plea to the charges and remains in the Woodbury County Jail on a $502,000 bond. He is scheduled to be arraigned on Feb. 13.
Chief District Judge Duane Hoffmeyer assigned the case to Hindman on Wednesday.
Hindman, who was appointed to the bench last summer, said in his order that he represented Henry in a probation revocation case in March 2017.
Court records show that Henry was placed on probation after a jury in November 2016 found him guilty of driving a stolen vehicle. District Judge Patrick Tott revoked Henry's probation in 2017, when Hindman was representing him, after Henry was charged with stealing a car after leaving an inpatient drug treatment facility in Colfax, Iowa. Hindman did not represent Henry at trial.
Tott sentenced Henry to five years in prison. Henry was released on parole on Jan. 16, eight days before Bockholt's death.
According to court documents, Bockholt and Henry had a romantic relationship before Henry was sentenced to prison, and she voluntarily met him at the hotel on Jan. 24. Henry is accused of strangling Bockholt, then removing a smoke alarm and setting the room on fire. Her body was found by firefighters and police officers responding to the fire.
Henry was identified on surveillance video and by witnesses who saw him leaving the scene just after the fire. He was arrested hours later about half a mile away.
If found guilty of first-degree murder, Henry would face a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole. First-degree arson carries a 25-year prison sentence.