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CNHI/Southeast Iowa

September 27, 2012

Mother testifies in Arterburn trial

OSKALOOSA — Linda Arterburn took the witness stand Wednesday afternoon in the first-degree murder trial of her son, Brad Arterburn, in Mahaska County District Court.

Arterburn, 27, of Oskaloosa, has been charged with the first-degree murder of his mother’s boyfriend, Robert Henry “Hank” Horovitz, 58, of Davenport, on June 19, 2011. Arterburn entered a plea of not guilty in Mahaska County Court July 12, 2011.

During opening statements delivered on the second day of the trial Wednesday morning, an overview of the events of June 19, 2011 was delivered by both the prosecution and defense.

Arterburn lived with his mother, Linda Arterburn. He lived in the basement and had several knives and swords.

Linda Arterburn had met “Hank” Horovitz three weeks earlier and were dating. Brad did not like Hank because he reminded Brad of his step dad, David Myers, who had sexually abused him as a child.

On June 19, Hank and Linda had decided to get married and Hank told Brad the news.

Brad went to his room around 8:30 p.m. and grabbed a medieval-style battleax and stabbed Hank in the back while he was sitting in front of a computer and dragged him to the floor. Brad then took a buck knife out of his pocket and cut Hank’s throat and then stabbed himself in the chest. Linda called 911 and two police officers soon arrived. A police officer used his taser on Brad and took him into custody.

Both Hank and Brad were taken to the hospital where Hank died. Brad was airlifted to Des Moines for treatment.

Lead defense attorney Ken Duker also recounted the events of that day but also added Arterburn’s history of child sex abuse. He said that Horovitz reminded Arterburn of his abusive stepfather in that they were similar in height and weight, and both liked to wear khaki shorts. Duker said Arterburn told his mother and sister about his misgivings several times.

Arterburn had intense flashbacks to his sexual abuse when he saw Horovitz. When Arterburn attacked Horovitz, he saw Myers’ face.

“He sees Dave’s face,” Duker said. “He can’t differentiate between Hank and Dave.”   

Duker said that Arterburn pleads not guilty by reason of insanity.

Linda Arterburn testified that she had met Hank via an online dating site and they had met face-to-face during three weekend visits.

“Hank was real happy to be together. We talked about him moving in and getting married after the first weekend,” she said.

She said Brad met Horovitz that first weekend but there was not much interaction between the two. Hank had tried striking up a conversation with Brad.

“Brad has a hard time expressing feelings,” she said. “He said Hank reminded him of David.” Brad mentioned the khaki pants and “left it at that,” she added.

The following weekend, Linda traveled to Cedar Rapids to visit Horovitz.

On the third weekend — that of June 19 — Horovitz visited Linda in Oskaloosa. On June 19, Horovitz blurted out to Brad that he was going to move in soon and that he and Linda were going to get engaged soon, Linda said. She added that she was a little upset with Horovitz because she wanted to talk to Brad first before telling him about their plans.

Brad talked to his mother alone in the garage.

Linda said that Brad told her “this is a family home” and that she can’t just do as she pleased. He wanted to be moved out of the house before she and Horovitz had a relationship. They agreed to go house hunting for Brad the next day.

Linda said that later she and Horovitz were sitting in front of the computer in the family room as Hank showed her pictures of his family. She said Brad came up from behind and hit Horovitz in the back with the ax.

“He hit Hank in the back with the weapon you were showing,” she said during her testimony. Brad pulled Hank down onto the floor.

“I tried to get Brad off of him,” she said. Brad threw his mother over to the fireplace in the room.

Linda remembered that Hank told her “I love you.”

Linda said she tried calling 911, but Brad took and broke her cell phone.

She said the Brad told her: “He doesn’t deserve for you to call 911.” Brad then took the buck knife that he had used to slice Horovitz’s throat and stabbed himself in the chest. Linda said that Brad told her: “This is your fault.”

Hank then shoved his cell phone over to her and she made the call to police.

During cross examination, Linda testified that her son had mental disabilities. When Brad was 9 years old, he had counseling and he told his counselor of the sexual abuse he had suffered. Brad also had trouble in school while he was growing up. He had conditions such as attention deficit hyper activity disorder, social anxiety disorder, impulse disorder and post traumatic stress disorder, she said. However, Brad earned his GED and had just two or three terms left before he earned a degree at Indian Hills Community College. He also was named to the Indian Hills President’s List.

Linda also testified that before she had met Horovitz, she had dated Jim Head and Brad had liked him.

Three Oskaloosa Police officers also testified about the events of June 19, 2011. They recounted what they found at the crime scene, identified the weapons used in Brad’s attack on Horovitz and the aftermath of the attack.

Day 3 of the trial begins at 8:30 a.m. at the Mahaska County Courthouse.

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