Pella Chronicle

CNHI/Southeast Iowa

October 2, 2012

Arterburn takes the stand in trial

Says he couldn’t separate victim from his molester

OSKALOOSA — Bradley Arterburn took the witness stand Monday afternoon on the fifth day of his first-degree murder trial 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.

Arterburn recounted his life in the town of Greene, where he lived with his mother, sister and stepfather, Dave Myers — the man who sexually abused him for about three years.

Arterburn said Myers abused him every night when his mother was upstairs or when his mother and sister were gone for school activities. Arterburn said Myers also molested two of his friends as well as his dog in front of him.

“Dave liked to wear khaki pants and run around the house in his underwear,” Arterburn testified.

Arterburn told his mom about the abuse when Myers was in the hospital.

Arterburn’s mother put him in counseling and therapy. Arterburn’s mother found a job in Oskaloosa, and the family moved down to Arterburn’s grandmother’s farm outside Beacon.

While living on the farm, Arterburn began collecting swords.

“I started collecting when I was 18,” he said.

Arterburn said he had nightmares about Myers coming back for him and he would use guns and the swords in his dreams to defend himself. However, the guns wouldn’t work and swords would break in his dreams, so Arterburn said he would buy a new sword. The last item he bought was the ax.

“It didn’t break (in dreams). It was steady,” Arterburn said.

The family eventually moved to the house at 1106 N. Fourth St. in Oskaloosa.

Arterburn also talked about his mother’s boyfriends she met in 2011. She brought Jim Head over to meet Brad.

“He was a nice guy. I enjoyed hanging out with him,” Arterburn said.

However, after an engagement party, Arterburn’s mother broke up with Head.

When she met Horovitz, he came to visit Oskaloosa in June 2011.

“He reminded me of Dave,” Arterburn said.

Arterburn said he mostly stayed in his basement room that first weekend.

“I didn’t want to be near him,” Arterburn testified. Arterburn said he was scared of Horovitz and was afraid of being molested again.

“I told her I was terrified,” Arterburn said of telling his mother of his fears later.

He said his mother broke her promise to him — that if a boyfriend reminded Arterburn of Myers, she would break off the relationship.

Arterburn said his goal was to finish college at Indian Hills Community College, get a paid internship and move out of the house. However, he still had to honor his promise to his grandmother — that he wouldn’t marry and take care of both his grandmother and mother.

After his mother’s trip to Cedar Rapids on the second weekend, she told Arterburn that Horovitz would visit the following weekend.

“I was scared. I got sick (with an ulcer). I was so worried about him that I didn’t go to school (on Monday),” Arterburn said.

Arterburn said he talked to his mother that night, and she said she would go to Cedar Rapids to see Horovitz. Arterburn then went on a three-day class trip to Peoria, Ill. When he returned Thursday, Arterburn said his mother told him that Horovitz would be down that weekend.

Arterburn made plans to visit his sister that weekend but returned Sunday to do homework and go to class on Monday.

When he returned, Arterburn said that his mother and Horovitz told him that Horovitz would move in soon. Arterburn talked to his mother in the garage and she agreed to help Arterburn look for a house Monday evening.

After eating supper and watching a movie Sunday, Arterburn was getting ready to take their two dogs on a walk. Arterburn testified that Horovitz told him that he likes his dog and his dog likes him.

Arterburn said he went downstairs, sat on his bed and had flashbacks about Myers and what he did to him and his dog.

“I started seeing Dave,” Arterburn said. “I couldn’t get him out of my head. I just want him out of my head.

“I just couldn’t take it anymore,” Arterburn said. “I just stopped thinking.”

Arterburn said he got off the bed.

“I had to make it stop. I had to get rid of Dave,” he said.

Arterburn took the ax from the wall and went upstairs.

“I see Dave, and he’s smiling,” Arterburn said.

Arterburn said he saw a man sitting in front of the computer in the room and stabbed him in the back and then stabbed him in the stomach on the floor.

Arterburn said he saw Myers on the floor smiling at him, so he took a knife from his pocket and cut the man’s throat.

Afterwards, Arterburn stabbed himself in the chest and went outside to have a cigarette on the deck outside.

Under cross-examination, prosecutors asked about the house he and his mother shared in Oskaloosa. Arterburn said he and his sister consider the home to be a family house and talked to their uncle about placing the home in a trust. They were afraid the family would lose the house if their mother got married.

The prosecutor asked Arterburn about his dreams. He said Myers was “not like a regular person” in his dreams.

Arterburn said that Horovitz never said or did anything threatening to him.

Arterburn said he wanted “Dave to go away. I was seeing Dave everywhere” both in his head in the room upstairs.

Arterburn said he was convinced that he had killed Myers.

The prosecutor showed Arterburn the ax while he was on the witness stand. Arterburn became confused and when asked if Myers was still alive, he said, “I don’t know.”

The prosecutor asked if Horovitz was alive. Arterburn said, “I don’t know of that person.”

The defense rested Monday afternoon.

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