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Jessica Dayton talks with her attorney on the second day of her trial. Photo by Brian Ray, The Gazette.

The prosecution continued to question witnesses during day two of the Jessica Dayton murder trial Thursday, April 22.

Dayton, 19, Belle Plaine, is accused of killing Curtis Bailey, 33,

Marengo, on July 18, 2009. Jacob Hilgendorf, Belle Plaine, and Denise

Frei, Marengo, are also charged with first-degree murder in connection

with the case.

Dayton pleaded not guilty.

Assistant state attorney Douglas Hammerand’s first witness of the day was Denise Templeton, Amana. Jacob Hilgendorf was living with Templeton for about a week prior to the killing. Templeton said Hilgendorf was living in an apartment in Belle Plaine prior to moving in with her. Hilgendorf’s roommate hd invited someone else to move into the apartment, who Hilgendorf did not get along with, so he moved out.

Templeton said her youngest daughter, a sixth grader, was best friends with the daughter of another family Hilgendorf used to live with. Templeton said she invited “Hilgy” to stay in her basement until his new apartment in Marengo was ready.

She said she knew Hilgendorf for about eight to nine months, and she knew Dayton for maybe one month. Templeton said she did not know Denise Frei.


On the day of Saturday, July 18, 2009, Templeton said she helped Hilgendorf find new tires for his Ford Explorer. A tire had blown on the Explorer, and the spare was flat, so the vehicle was stranded on the side of the road.

Templeton drove Hilgendorf to Blairstown, where a friend had four tires that would fit the Explorer. They bought the tires and returned to the Explorer. Hilgendorf and the friend replaced all four tires on the vehicle.

Templeton said she left Hilgendorf at about 4 p.m. She went to run some errands and she did not know where Hilgendorf, who was now driving the Explorer, went.

Around 7:30 p.m., or dusk, Templeton said she arrived back home and met with Elisha Runyan and Hilgendorf. Runyan brought her daughter with her.

They made a fire in the fire pit and grilled hamburgers and brats. While eating dinner shortly after 8 p.m., Templeton said they started drinking. She said she was drinking Smirnoff Ice, and Runyan had brought a bottle of Jagermeister. Templeton said Runyan and Hilgendorf were mixing the Jagermeister with power drinks.

Templeton’s testimony conflicts with the testimony given by Runyan Wednesday April 21. Runyan said she did not drink. She also said she left Templeton’s home around dusk, while Templeton said Runyan did not leave until approximately 11 p.m.

Templeton and Runyan did agree that they all smoked marijuana after dinner while sitting around the fire pit. Templeton said that she provided the marijuana. She said Runyan’s daughter was inside watching TV at this time.

Runyan allegedly left at about 11 p.m., and Hilgendorf left in his Ford Explorer at approximately 11:30 p.m., Templeton said.

She said she then went inside, cleaned up, took a prescription sleeping pill and went to bed.

Sometime after 2 a.m., Templeton said her dog woke her up by barking. She got up and went downstairs to the kitchen. From the kitchen, she said she could see into the basement. She said she saw Hilgendorf and Dayton standing by the sliding glass door that leads out to the back patio.

Templeton said she could see that the fire in the fire pit was rekindled.

Dayton was wearing a pair of sweatpants owned by Templeton, she said. When she asked why Dayton was wearing her clothes, Templeton said she was told that somebody had vomited on Dayton’s clothes, or that she had vomited on herself.

Dayton asked if she could take a shower.

Templeton said that both Dayton and Hilgendorf went into the bathroom across the hall from Templeton’s upstairs bedroom and used the shower. They were in the bathroom at the same time, she said.

While they were in the bathroom, Templeton said she received a phone call from a friend. It was 2:42 a.m.

After Dayton and Hilgendorf came out of the bathroom, Templeton said they found sleeping clothes for the two of them to wear. Then they hung out in Templeton’s bedroom and talked and smoked more marijuana.

While they were talking, Templeton said that Dayton made a comment about the night’s earlier activities. According to Templeton, Dayton said, “Things didn’t go according to plan.”

Also, Hilgendorf made a comment that they cut some things up and burned them in the fire pit, according to Templeton.

At some point, she said Hilgendorf went downstairs and went to bed. She said Dayton slept in her room.

Templeton said she was awoken by Jessica’s cell phone the next morning. She said Dayton asked her if she could borrow Templeton’s Plymouth Neon. According to Templeton, Dayton said they needed to go into Marengo and Jacob’s Explorer did not have gas. Templeton said she gave Dayton the keys to her Neon.


Templeton did not hear from Dayton or Hilgendorf until she received a text message from Dayton at 10:34 a.m. The text message said, “I need you to do me a big favor! Go to Jacob’s car and clean it out. It’s very important!”

However, Templeton said law enforcement officers were already at her house. She had signed a search consent form, allowing the officers to search the home.

Dayton called Templeton around noon. Officers were still at Templeton’s house, and they told Templeton to put Dayton on speaker phone.

While attempting to put Dayton on speaker phone, Templeton said she accidentally hung up. She called Dayton back and put her on speaker phone.

With law enforcement officers standing right next to Templeton, Dayton told her not to let them look in the Explorer.

Then, according to Templeton, Dayton said, “They were probably all going to go away for a while.”

“Maybe it was ‘we’ or ‘they’, I’m not sure,” Templeton said.

Dayton called Templeton again at 1:11 p.m., after the  officers had left. She asked Templeton if they searched the truck. Templeton told her that she had signed the consent form, and they had taken the Explorer away. According to Templeton, Dayton then told her she was dumb, or stupid, for signing the form.


Upon cross examination from Dayton’s attorney Douglas Eichholz, he asked Templeton when she was it she made her statement to the prosecution. When law enforcement were at her house subsequent to the slaying, Templeton said she did not agree to a questioning.

It wasn’t until eight or nine months after the slaying that Templeton agreed to give her testimony, she said, once she was granted immunity. Eichholz said the prosecution granted Templeton immunity from charges of being an accessory to the crime and obstruction of justice, among other charges, in order to receive her testimony. He said that Templeton did not give her interview to investigators until eight to nine months after the killing.

Even still, on the morning of April 22, the prosecution again granted Templeton immunity from charges of possession of marijuana in order to receive her testimony on the day of the trial.

Eichholz pointed out that Templeton had ingested alcohol, marijuana and a sleeping pill on the night in question.

“That is a lot of substances in your body at that time,” Eichholz said. “ Do you think you have the best recollection based on the substances you consumed?”

“I had not been drinking heavily. So I think so,” Templeton responded. “I don’t know.”


Hammerand called in Dennis Kern, a criminologist and certified fingerprint examiner with the Department of Criminal Investigation (DCI). Kern said he found Dayton’s fingerprints on several items collected from Bailey’s house and from Hilgendorf’s Ford Explorer.

Kern also identified several objects that were found around Bailey’s body. There were glass shards under his right arm, as well as red, cherry candies. There were also broken ceramic shards that were consistent with the shape of an ashtray, Kern said. There were also pieces of plastic wrap found around the body, he said.

Dayton’s fingerprints were identified on the following items, according to Kern:

• Dayton’s fingerprints were identified on a bottle of Absolut vodka found in a room adjacent to the entryway, which Kern referred to as the office. A fingerprint belonging to Curtis Bailey was also found on the vodka bottle, he said. Two empty bottles of Sprite 0 were located next to the bottle of vodka, as was a shot glass that had the depiction of a skull, he said.

A matching shot glass was discovered on the end table next to Curtis Bailey’s body, Kern said. A silver bottle cap that fit on the Absolut bottle was also found on the end table, he said.

• Four fingerprints were identified on a empty box of Shure Fine plastic wrap located in a kitchen cupboard, Kern said. The four fingerprints were a match to Jessica Dayton, he said.

• Dayton’s fingerprints were found on an empty bottle of Sprite 0 located on the end table next to the body of Curtis Bailey, Kern said.

Hammerand asked if Kern was able to find fingerprints on the landscaping rock, which was found in a garbage bag in Hilgendorf’s Ford Explorer. Kern said the surface of the rock was too rough to be able to collect fingerprints.

Several other items of evidence were found in the Ford Explorer, Kern said. There was a green towel and a red and black plaid jacket found between the passenger and driver’s seat. On the floor of the passenger seat, Kern said they found a plastic bag that contained a pair of black tennis shoes, plastic wrap that had red discoloration, the top of a jar, such as a candy dish, that had been broken off and had red discoloration, a landscaping rock with red discoloration, a section of PVC pipe, a piece of drift wood and a gray sweatshirt.

There was another bag in the Explorer that was wrapped around a BB gun, Kern said. There was plastic wrap that had been caught in the locking mechanism of the gun, he said.

Kern said they were also able to use a chemical substance on the floor of Curtis Bailey’s living room that revealed  a footprint on the floor, next to the body. The size and pattern of the footprint was consistent with the left black tennis shoe found in the Ford Explorer, he said.

Kern also said he made a cast of an indentation in the front yard of the Bailey home. Kern said there was an open space in the yard where there was no vegetation growing. He said the space was about the same size as the landscaping rock that was found in the Ford Explorer.

However, Kern said he was unable to make a meaningful comparison.

The court proceedings recessed until Friday, April 23. It is believed that Dayton’s former cellmate will testify Friday.

The defense has yet to make its opening statements.

Dayton Trial - Day 1


UPDATED April 25, 2010 12:19 PM

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