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Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Tonch Weldon, 39, was charged with fatally shooting Amy Gephart in front of his wife

An Iowa County jury convicted a rural Blairstown man of first-degree murder Tuesday in the fatal 2009 shooting of a woman who was involved in a relationship with the man and his wife.

Tonch Weldon, 39, was charged with fatally shooting Amy Gephart in front of his wife, Amanda, after she threatened to leave him for Gephart. Tonch Weldon then shot himself.

The jury deliberated the case for almost five days following a weeklong trial that wrapped up July 20.

Weldon was emotional during the trial and cried at times but was nearly emotionless as the verdict was read and as deputies walked him back to jail, The Gazette reported.

Weldon faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole. Sentencing was set for Aug. 15 in Iowa County District Court in Marengo.

During the trial, Amanda Weldon testified her husband shot Gephart on June 7, 2009, after she threatened to leave him. She said the couple had an open marriage and Gephart lived with them and was their sexual partner until she fell in love with Gephart. The women decided to leave Weldon and after arguing that day, Amada Weldon testified her husband shot Gephart and then turned the gun on himself.

Prosecutors argued the shooting was deliberate and premeditated. The defense claimed the shooting was a "crime of passion."

"Amy was our only child and we had 35 wonderful years with her," her parents, Jim and Nancy Gephart, said in a statement after the verdict.



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