Next week, Kyle Roider of Waterloo will stand trial for the January 2019 shooting death of Steven Becker.
The trial proceedings begin with jury selection at 9 a.m. Monday in Courtroom 213 at the Monroe County Courthouse in Waterloo.
Monroe County State’s Attorney Lucas Liefer, who is prosecuting the case, said he hopes jury selection will only take one day. This means opening statements in the trial could start the next day.
If this is not the case, both Leifer and Roider’s defense attorney, T.J. Matthes, said the opening statements should start Wednesday.
Roider, 33, is charged with first degree murder and aggravated battery in connection with Becker’s death.
Roider has pleaded not guilty to both charges.
Charges were brought against Roider after Becker’s body was found Jan. 11, 2019 in the basement of the house Roider was inhabiting at 107 N. Church Street.
As the Republic-Times previously reported, Monroe County Coroner Bob Hill ruled Becker’s death a homicide. Becker, 35, was shot in the head and leg, the former being noted as the cause of death in the autopsy.
That same night, Roider was arrested. Waterloo police investigated the case.
Now, approximately 2.5 years after Becker’s remains were found, Roider will face trial on the two charges brought against him.
If found guilty of first degree murder, Roider must fulfill a mandatory sentence of 20-60 years in prison without chance of probation. Death resulting from the discharge of a firearm – which the autopsy report confirmed was the case with Becker’s death – carries an additional charge of 25 years to life in prison.
The charge of aggravated battery requires 85 percent of its sentence of six to 30 years be served and is also not eligible for probation.
Matthes told the Republic-Times last week that he expects this long-awaited trial to go in the defense’s favor.
“We’re confident Kyle is going to be found not guilty,” Matthes said.
Proceedings were delayed in part due to the COVID pandemic, with the jury trial being delayed multiple times. Court records show the trial was initially set for June 1, 2020.
In October 2019, Judge Julia Gomric ordered a psychological exam after the court found a “bona fide doubt” existed as to whether Roider was fit to stand trial. However, clinical psychologist Dr. Daniel Cuneo determined Roider to be fit to stand trial, according to a December 2019 court document.
Cuneo’s report explaining his decision is sealed.
A document also shows the court later ordered Cuneo to determine if Roider could present an insanity defense under the requirement that he had not “appreciated the criminality of his alleged conduct” on the date of the alleged offense.
This order came in March 2020, and Cuneo’s related findings are also sealed.
In September 2020, Matthes argued his motion to bifurcate his client’s trial should be granted in a hearing that was sealed to the public.
Gomric later decided to deny this motion.
The exact reasoning as to why Matthes wished to bifurcate the trial is under seal as well, but then-Monroe County State’s Attorney Chris Hitzemann told the Republic-Times last September that bifurcation would have allowed multiple defenses to be presented.
“Essentially, what you’re saying is that you have defenses that are sort of in conflict, and you’re asking the court to essentially have more than one trial,” Hitzemann said then. “If you did your first defense and you were found guilty, you could have a second trial with your second defense. The evidence that goes to support those would only be admissible in each of those trials.”
The Republic-Times will provide updates as Roider’s trial gets underway.
UPDATE: On Aug. 27, 2021, a Monroe County jury found Kyle Roider not guilty of first-degree murder and not guilty of aggravated battery with a firearm. These charges were brought against Roider in connection with Steven Becker’s January 2019 death.