Buddz’s Case Will Go To The Jury Tuesday

Buddz's FirePrimghar, Iowa — The jury in the Buddz’s arson trial will get the case Tuesday.

The prosecution rested Friday afternoon in the Buddz’s arson trial, and Monday morning the defense took their turn.

Defense attorney John Rigg’s first witness of the day was Rick Jones of Goodson Engineering in Denton, Texas, a Fire Investigator and Certified Bomb Tech.

Jones testified that he conducted no witness interviews during his investigation, instead relying on reports and documentation from police and fire departments.  He told jurors that he was looking for potential ignition sources that may have caused the Buddz’s blaze.

Jones testified that, in his professional opinion, there was insufficient data to pinpoint the cause of the fire, and that he would classify it as “undetermined”.

Rigg also called Private Investigator Scott Gratias of Des Moines to the witness stand.  Gratias testified that he had been hired to investigate the text messages between the defendant and her employees on the day of the fire.  He told jurors that, since there was only one cell tower in Sheldon, that it would be easy to pinpoint the location of  each person when the messages were sent.

Following the noon recess, Gratias returned to the stand for cross-examination by Assistant Iowa Attorney General Coleman McAllister.  Under cross-examination, after McAllister informed him that there were, in fact, multiple cell towers in Sheldon at the time of the fire, Gratias admitted that, in that case, it would be nearly impossible to pinpoint the location of the phones when the texts were sent.

At that point the defense rested their case.  Judge Don Courtney then informed the jury that they were finished for the day, and that court would reconvene Tuesday morning at 9:30, at which time the attorneys would present their closing arguments, Courtney would provide final jury instructions, and the jury would retire to deliberate the case.

36-year old Kristina Manasil of Sheldon is charged with 1st Degree Arson and Insurance Fraud in connection with the May, 2013 fire that destroyed Buddz’s and the Rec Bowl, a business that she owned.

For earlier stories on this trial, click here.