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Charles City woman convicted of trying to kill her mother

By Bob Steenson,

A Charles City woman was found guilty Monday of attempting to kill her mother by injecting her with insulin.

After a trial that lasted all of last week and finished Monday morning, a Floyd County jury of six men and six women found Jennifer Bean, age 44, guilty of attempted murder, a class B felony with a potential penalty of up to 25 years in prison.

The jury deliberated about 2½ hours before returning the guilty verdict Tuesday afternoon.

Charles City woman convicted of trying to kill her mother
Jennifer K. Bean

Bean’s attorneys admitted that Bean had injected her mother with insulin on Nov. 6, 2018, but said it was part of a plan — “not a great plan, perhaps an ill-conceived plan,” said defense attorney Steven Kloberdanz in his opening arguments last Tuesday — to force her mother to go to the hospital where she would be evaluated.

The defense said Bean thought her mother, who had been diagnosed with inoperable breast cancer, was neglecting her health by irregularly taking her prescribed cancer medications in favor of treatment methods she found on the internet, and that chemical imbalances in her mother were causing her to not think or act right.

Kloberdanz described the mother as controlling and domineering, and said she had forbade Jennifer from talking to her doctors about her concerns.

Bean knew that injecting insulin could cause her mother to become almost unconscious, Kloberdanz said.

“She wants to get her mom to the doctor, either by ambulance or by car,” he said.

Bean, a former EMT, testified on Thursday, frequently becoming emotional on the stand.

“I did something drastic in hopes of saving her life,” Bean said under questioning by Kloberdanz.

“In my experience in emergency services, most hypoglycemics don’t remember what led up to the event. I wanted to prolong her life by getting the doctors to see her,” she said. “Her quality of life was miserable. She was my mom — I’d do anything for her. I didn’t want to lose her.”

She admitted injecting her mother with insulin, first while giving her a backrub, then later they struggled and she injected her again, but her mother got the syringe away from her and began stabbing her with it, breaking off the needle in Bean’s shoulder.

Although Bean had hidden her mother’s phone and IPads that were in the house, her mother got an older cellphone that didn’t have an account on it but that could still be used in an emergency to call 911.

The recorded 911 call was played for the jury and on it Bean’s mother could be heard giving her address and saying her daughter was trying to kill her.

Bean realized her mother was calling 911 and broke off the call, but police responded to the house and found Bean’s mother running down the street, not properly dressed for the day’s cold weather.

An ambulance took Bean’s mother to the hospital, where her blood glucose level was measured at 45 and her potassium level was 2.5, both significantly below normal.

Other people testifying included Bean’s mother’s cancer doctor, Dr. Sanggyu Bae, a Mason City oncologist, who said a low blood glucose level can cause dizziness, confusion and sometimes coma. A low potassium level can contribute to cardiac problems, he said.

Previous routine blood work done while Bean’s mother was being treated for cancer had shown those levels within normal ranges, Bae said.

In cross-examining Bean on the witness stand, Douglas Hammerand, an Iowa assistant attorney general helping the Floyd County Attorney’s Office prosecute the case, said Bean knew her mother had an appointment with Bae on the next day, Nov. 7, and could have raised her concerns then, instead of going through with her plan on Nov. 6.

“You don’t know my family, the family dynamic,” Bean responded, saying that previously her mother had told her not to discuss her medical condition with her doctor and she should “shut up or you’re going to the car.”

“As an EMT you knew you could call the doctor and express your concerns,” Hammerand said. “You thought it would be better to inject her with insulin and then call the doctor? You knew you could have called Dr. Bae, sent him a letter, sent him an email and expressed your concerns?”

“She would have known where that information came from,” Bean responded. “I was the only one there.”

In closing arguments Monday morning, defense attorney Kloberdanz said the prosecution had failed to prove that Bean was trying to kill her mother.

He said Bean had moved back to Charles City from Florida when she found out her mother was sick, but later became concerned over her mother’s physical and mental condition, including actions her mother was taking that seemed to indicate she was preparing to die.

He said Bean had been careful to use only enough insulin to attempt to cause her mother to lose consciousness.

“If she wanted to kill her there were plenty of opportunities to inject her again and again and again. She used too little insulin. She was too cautious. If you want to kill someone you use too much, not too little,” he said.

“What does Jennifer gain by killing her mom? Not one damn thing,” Kloberdanz said, adding that Bean knew she had been removed from her mother’s will, she would lose her home because she had been staying with her mom, and she would lose access to her adopted sister, whom she had come to love while helping take care of her while she lived with her mom.

“She made an impulsive and not very well thought-out plan to create an emergency room visit so she could tell the doctors what is going on,” he said.

“Despite a poorly thought-out plan that went horribly wrong, her mother looks good,” he said, referring to Bean’s mother’s appearance when she testified at the trial last week.

“As goofy as your plan was, it worked for your mom,” he said.

In his summation, Hammerand said, “This is amazing. The defendant gets credit for (Bean’s mother) being better today? Maybe she’s better because Jennifer is no longer in her life.”

Sentencing has been set for Sept. 30. Bean is being held in the Floyd County Jail until then.