Courthouse Steps Mavens / Partner Murders
/ Archives / 09-29-2008 / Michael "Shane" Hill, 29{desc: Jessica K. Hill, Daniel Alan Blair & Aron Michael Moss}

Topie: Michael "Shane" Hill, 29{desc: Jessica K. Hill, Daniel Alan Blair & Aron Michael Moss}
March 26th, 2008 10:07 AM
Jade State: Hill's wife helped plan his murder / Blair, Moss both had histories of convictions for non-violent crimes

By Luke Jennett
Ames Tribune


A complaint and affidavit issued Monday by the Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation against Jessica K. Hill, 24, sheds more light on the death of her husband, Michael "Shane" Hill, 29.

The affidavit, signed by DCI special agent Terry C. Cowman, alleges that Jessica Hill was involved in a plot to kill Shane Hill.

"... Jessica K. Hill, with malice aforethought, did willfully, deliberately and with premeditation plan and participate in the shooting death of Michael Shane Hill at a farm in Boone County, Iowa, by conspiring with Daniel Alan Blair and Aron Michael Moss to kill Michael Shane Hill," the affidavit reads. "Jessica Hill communicated a plan which resulted in Blair and Moss using a firearm to shoot and kill Michael Shane Hill."

Authorities have not yet released specifics about Jessica Hill's connection to the murder, but the three remain in prison following their arrests and are being held under $1 million bonds.

Both Blair and Moss have faced convictions in the past, but neither was charged with violent crimes.

In 2005, Moss was found by police and sheriff's deputies during the execution of a search warrant to be in possession of methamphetamine and marijuana. The meth was found in a baggie hidden in Moss's wallet.

Moss pleaded guilty to possession of meth and struck a bargain with prosecutors to get the marijuana charges dropped. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail with all but two suspended and placed on probation for a year.

In June 2006, Moss pleaded guilty to third-degree burglary and attempted third-degree burglary on unoccupied motor vehicles in Polk County. He was sentenced to two years in prison, but the sentence was suspended and he was released after seven days for time served. He was sentenced to two years of probation and 50 hours of community service.

Blair was arrested on third-degree burglary charges in October 2001 after he broke into a garage to steal a pair of all-terrain vehicles that were stored there. He and another person reportedly took the vehicles elsewhere and had begun to dismantle them for their own use when they were caught. Blair pleaded guilty and was given a suspended five-year prison sentence, plus 50 hours of community service and two years of probation.

Blair also was arrested for second-degree theft in September 2005 for stealing $17,300 in bottle returns and $1,500 worth of cigarettes between October 2001 and February 2002 from the Lincoln Way Hy-Vee where he worked. Blair was fined and given a five-year prison sentence, which was suspended, and he was placed on probation for two years.

But his previous probation was revoked, and he was sentenced to five years in prison and two years of further probation. This sentence was later reconsidered, and Blair was freed on a five-year suspended sentence and two years of probation.

Blair entered Fort Dodge Correctional Facility on May 16, 2006, and entered the "Violators Program" shortly thereafter, in which he took classes on Victim Empathy, Corrective Thinking, and Daily Decisions, according to an evaluation by correctional counselor Netti Renshaw.

Blair reportedly demonstrated decent behavior throughout the program, earning only three minor reports for the possession of tobacco and two major reports for threatening and roughhousing with a cellmate.

"He recognizes that his behavior at the beginning of the program was a continuation of his criminal thinking and is demonstrating responsibility towards learning new skills," Renshaw wrote. "He is willing to work on his distorted thinking in his case management assignments by identifying the thought process he uses to give himself permission to continue to defy authority and the rules of society."

Blair left prison on probation Nov. 3, 2006.

Family members have alleged an extramarital affair between Jessica Hill and Blair. Shane Hill's mother, Patricia, said Shane once returned home to find Jessica in bed with Blair. Patricia Hill said Jessica had later gone to authorities and said she felt Shane presented a danger to his wife and children. Jessica requested a protective order against her husband in June 2005 that was terminated two months later. Records of this order remain sealed.

Patricia Hill said there'd been no violence at the incident, and she rejected the idea of Shane having ever physically attacked Jessica.

"She got the restraining order because she knew that was the only way on this Earth that she was going to keep those children away from him," Patricia Hill said.

A petition for financial support for the Hills' two children was filed by Jessica Hill on May 12, 2006, and an administrative levy was placed on Shane Hills' bank account to automatically withdraw funds until delinquent child support was paid in October of the same year.

However, the levy file noted that Shane Hill was living with the family at the time. An order for income withholding was terminated March 8, 2007.

Patricia Hill said the couple had been back together for some time, but the child support payments continued because Jessica Hill neglected to arrange for them to stop. Patricia Hill said they were finally stopped when the balance was taken from her son's income tax return.

Patricia Hill also disputed claims that Shane Hill had lived with Blair and Moss for a time.

She said the red pickup truck that was spotted at the pair's rented house by a neighbor was someone else's and that her son had sold his own red pickup before that time.

Shane Hill was arrested for interference with official acts in April 1999 as police officers, under orders of the building inspector, were helping remove several cars from his property. When they tried to tow a Volkswagen from his property, he blocked them with another car and refused to move. He was arrested and, according to officials, resisted.

Boone Police Captain Lyn Slight suffered broken cartilage due to the incident. Shane Hill served three days in jail and was placed on probation for two years.
March 26th, 2008 10:13 AM

Victim's Mother Speaks Out After Ogden Shooting

Hill Says She's Ready To Raise Her Grandchildren

June 3, 2007

DES MOINES, Iowa -- The family of a man who was fatally shot said the man's children are also victims.

The case began on Memorial Day when police initially thought they were investigating an accidental shooting death. Later in the week, they declared it a homicide.

Police said Michael Shane Hill, 29, called 911 to say that he had accidentally shot himself on a farm outside Ogden in Boone County.

Police said Friday that two Boone men, Daniel Blair and Aron Moss, were charged with first-degree murder in connection with Hill's death.

On Friday night, police also arrested and charged Hill's wife, Jessica, in connection with the man's death.

The family said it's been a roller-coaster week because initially they thought Hill's death was an accident.

They said they found out just moments before his funeral that his former friend Blair was being charged with his slaying.

The family said they did not want to comment on Jessica Hill's possible involvement, but they did talk about Blair.

"When we told friends, the first thing they asked was 'Where was Danny at?'" said Shane Hill's mother, Patty.

Friends said Blair and Hill were best friends until Hill caught Jessica Hill having an affair with Blair a couple of years ago. They said that lately Blair was bragging about getting Hill back.

"No matter what it took, no matter what Shane said, he was getting her back, and Shane never talked to him again. We didn't think this would ever happen, but I guess we were wrong," Patty Hill said.

She said she has a lot of questions, but that right now she is grieving her son.

"I sit there at the kitchen table and wait for him to pull up the driveway and I guess I always will," she said.

Patty Hill said she and her husband are prepared to raise the couple's children.

Jessica, who is named after her mother, is 5 and Cody is 3.

The family said that so far, the children haven't asked where their mom is, but they do understand their dad is dead.

"He said, 'Grandma, I never got to tell my daddy goodbye and I never got to give him a kiss and tell him I love him.' That was so hard," Patty Hill said.

The family said they plan on getting both the children into therapy.

All three suspects are at the Boone County Jail and are each being held on $1 million bond.
March 26th, 2008 10:15 AM
Jade Victim's family weeps at Blair trial

By: Luke Jennett


BOONE - Members of Michael "Shane" Hill's family wept openly Thursday as they listened to 911 recordings of him dying.

Two emergency dispatch calls received May 28, 2007, by Boone and Greene county sheriff's department dispatchers from Hill's cell phone recorded his last moments as he lay on the ground near a sheep farm owned by Paul Doak near Ogden.

The first call, taken by dispatchers in Boone County, includes Hill pleading for medical attention after saying he thought he had shot himself.

"I can't move, and my back hurts really bad," he is heard saying. "Please, please hurry."

After a short time, Shane Hill hangs up, saying he's got to go. He then called John Blair, according to testimony given Thursday, and told him what happened before calling 911 again, this time getting connected to Greene County dispatch.

It's then that the second shot is heard, and Shane Hill screams in agony. As the dispatcher asks Shane Hill to stay with her, his moans become softer and softer and finally are gone.

The third day of the trial of Daniel Blair, accused of the murder of Hill, included the prosecution calling witnesses and submitting evidence, including the 911 tapes and photos of Hill's lifeless body where it lay after paramedics failed to revive him.

The prosecution attempted to lay a foundation for its theory that Aron Moss, Blair's friend and roommate, shot Shane Hill with a scoped 30.06 from an empty farmhouse 250 feet away while Blair handed Moss the bullets.

Prosecutors contend Blair wanted Hill dead so he could reunite with Shane Hill's wife, Jessica Hill. The two were involved in a long-term affair and reportedly lived together for a time while Jessica and Shane were separated.

Witness Lisa Lewis, a Boone resident who worked at the Eastside Hideaway Bar and was a friend with the Hills, testified that Moss had incurred an injury over his eye that Blair and Moss said happened when they were sighting the rifle they are believed to have used to kill Shane Hill.

She also testified that several days after the incident Blair came to her and told her that he'd "made someone disappear."

In a later conversation, she said Blair had explained he and Moss had shot someone and that Moss had pulled the trigger while Blair helped.

"I asked him why. He said that he didn't like the way he treated his wife, and he said they were going to be together, no matter what," Lewis said.

Patricia Hill, Shane's mother, said her relationship with Blair, at one time as close to her as her own sons, was nonexistent following an episode years ago when Shane Hill had found Blair in Jessica's arms. The incident ended in an assault charge against Shane Hill for striking Blair twice, and for some time after that, Patricia Hill said, the two spoke angrily of each other.

Patricia Hill also described Jessica Hill's reaction when told her husband had been shot. Shane and Jessica were living in a camper on the Hill's land at the time, Patricia said, and she had run across the lawn from the trailer to the camper to alert Jessica.

"She said something like, 'Just a minute, I'm doing something,'" Patricia Hill testified. "I don't think she acted that surprised."

Patricia Hill also reported that when they reached the Doak farm, as Patricia fought through law enforcement to get to her son's body, Jessica had simply stood by the car and, later, wandered off by herself to make phone calls.

The prosecution also called Mick Bailey, Ogden's chief of police and the first person to reach the scene, who described how he found Shane Hill. John Blair, Daniel Blair's brother, also was called upon to testify that both he and Shane Hill had worked for the Doaks, and that Daniel Blair, a former employee at the farm, had knowledge of its layout and the routine workers there usually went through.

Russ Dobson, of Elkhart, was brought up to testify that he had seen a man he later identified as Moss walking casually near the farm with a rifle.

The largest section of testimony was done by Paul Hermsen, of the Iowa Department of Criminal Investigations, who testified that investigators had been unable to recover any tire, shoe or fingerprints from the scene, but they were able to recover a cigarette butt and a spent shell casing believed to have been used in the crime.

Blair, Moss and Jessica Hill have all been charged with first-degree murder, a class A felony that is punishable by life imprisonment.
March 26th, 2008 10:17 AM
Jade Murder Trial of Boone Man Continues

Feb 18, 2008

Testimony resumed today in the trial of Daniel Blair. He's accused of killing Shane Hill while Hill worked on a sheep farm near Ogden. Today, investigators from the Division of Criminal Investigation are scheduled to take the stand.

The trial wrapped for the week last Friday, after the prosecution played a taped confession for jurors. In that taped confession, Blair tells investigators Aron Moss, one of his co-defendants, pulled the trigger. Blair does admit to handing Moss the bullets.

Blair, Moss, and Hill's wife Jessica Hill are all charged with murder.
March 26th, 2008 10:19 AM
Jade Blair trial moves to closing arguments

By: Luke Jennett


BOONE - After a short day Monday, both the prosecution and the defense rested in the trial of Daniel Blair, a Boone man accused of conspiring to murder the husband of his lover.

The defense called no witnesses on Blair's behalf; many of Blair's family members testified for the prosecution.

District Court Judge David Danilson told the jury that court would reconvene this morning while both sides worked out jury instructions, which must be approved by the defendant before they are given to jurors. Final arguments will be given today, as well.

On May 28, 2007, Shane Hill was shot to death at a sheep farm near Ogden. Police allege that Moss shot him from 250 feet away where he and Blair were hiding in a dilapidated farm house. Blair, who allegedly was having an affair with Shane Hill's wife, Jessica, is accused of plotting to murder Shane Hill well in advance with her help. All three have pleaded not guilty to the charges against them.

Blair has been charged with first-degree murder. If convicted, he could face life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Monday's testimony was largely technical, with several specialists from the Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation testifying for the state on points such as DNA and ballistics tests done during the investigation.

Victor Murillo, a firearms and tool marks specialist for the DCI, explained at length the process of matching the bullets test-fired from the 30.06 rifle that police believe was the murder weapon with those taken from the body of Michael "Shane" Hill. The gun, a Lee-Enfield/Eddystone Model 1917 Springfield bolt-action rifle, left similar marks on the test fire bullets and shells as those recovered by investigators following the shooting.

DNA specialist Elizabeth Buxton, also with the DCI, testified that, while investigators were unable to lift any DNA from other items such as seven cigarette butts recovered from the scene, they were able to isolate DNA from the shoulder strap of the rifle and later identify it as belonging to Aron Moss.

Deputy State Medical Examiner Dennis Klein also testified as to his findings on Michael "Shane" Hill's autopsy as jurors were shown photographs of the bullet wounds. Klein also testified that nothing was revealed in Hill's toxicology report.

Blair's defense team engaged both DCI specialists and the medical examiner as to whether or not their findings indicated Blair's involvement in the shootings. All three said they had no scientific evidence pointing to Blair.

The defense offered no cross-examination when the state called Tommy Blair, Daniel Blair's father, to give his account of the day, two weeks before the shooting, in which Daniel Blair and Moss came to his Jewell home and asked for the Springfield rifle. Tommy Blair testified that the two men said they needed the gun for "shooting coyotes."

The jury also heard testimony from Cody and Crystal Wilson, friends of Moss, who took possession of the rifle following the murder. Moss allegedly told Crystal Wilson to hold onto the gun while he was working out-of-town. However, Crystal Wilson said she was living with a felon and couldn't have the gun in her home, so she sent it to her brother, Cody.

Cody Wilson, who testified that he is a gun enthusiast, broke the rifle down after he received it and wiped it down, noting that the gun was in very poor condition.

Both testified on cross-examination that they didn't know Blair, and that he hadn't been with Moss when he'd asked Crystal Wilson to take care of the gun.

The prosecution has shown as evidence, among other things, of a recorded interview with police in which Blair describes the shooting and their respective roles in it. He told them he couldn't shoot Shane Hill himself because he "loved him like a brother."

The defense has argued that Moss acted without Blair. Only Moss' DNA was recovered from the rifle, and he was the one identified by an eyewitness as being at the farm at the time of the shooting.
March 26th, 2008 10:25 AM
Jade Blair convicted in murder of Hill

By: Luke Jennett


BOONE - After two hours of deliberation, the jury in the trial of Daniel Blair returned a verdict of guilty of first-degree murder Tuesday afternoon in Boone.

Blair, 26, of Boone, was convicted for his role in the murder of Michael "Shane" Hill, who was shot in the back and shoulder May 28, 2007, at a sheep farm near Ogden.

District Court Judge David Danilson has scheduled sentencing for Blair for Friday, March 14, in Boone County. First-degree murder, a Class A felony, carries a potential sentence of life imprisonment.

After the court was adjourned, emotion erupted on both sides of the courtroom. Patricia Hill, the mother of victim Michael "Shane" Hill, began to weep, and family members exchanged embraces. As prosecuting attorneys Scott Brown and Adria Stonehocker approached the family, Patricia Hill shook Brown's hand and said, "Thank you," before hugging Stonehocker.

Across the aisle, Tom Blair, who testified for the prosecution in the trial against his son, declined to comment.

For the first time since the trial began, Daniel Blair was led out of the courtroom with his hands cuffed behind his back. He showed no discernable reaction as Danilson pronounced the verdict, and he only stared as the jurors were called upon one by one to confirm their votes.

At the trial's closing, Danilson informed Blair and his attorneys he had five days before sentencing to file a motion in arrest of judgment against the verdict. One of Blair's attorneys, Annette Boehlje, said they hadn't determined yet if they would file one, or if the verdict would be further appealed after sentencing.

"This has really been a tragedy for all the families involved, Danny Blair's family and Shane Hill's family," she said.

Stonehocker and Brown said they were pleased with the verdict and were happy for Shane Hill's family. Brown said the statement Blair made to police, shown on video at the trial, had been a major key to the prosecution.

Relatives of Shane Hill have declined to comment for the time being, saying they would wait until all three trials have finished before making any statements.

Final arguments preceded the announcement of the verdict. The prosecution's case was capped by Brown, who argued that although Blair may not have pulled the trigger, he had still demonstrated malice aforethought and, by his own confession, had participated in the killing.

"But for Dan Blair, Shane Hill would still be alive," Brown said.

The defense's statement, delivered by Boehlje, argued that the state hadn't proven Blair's presence at the murder with corroborating evidence, and Blair could not be convicted solely on his confession.

"Danny Blair cannot be convicted merely by what he says," Boehlje said. "The state has to prove with other evidence that Danny Blair committed this offense. ... Has the state even really shown that he was there? Apart from Danny's statement, they haven't proven that."

The videotaped statement was touched on repeatedly by both sides in closing arguments. In the interview with police, Blair, who was not yet in custody, revealed details about the crime that led investigators to uncovering corroborating evidence, such as recovering a discarded bullet shell from a ditch and tracking down the location of the rifle.

Stonehocker said it was unknown whether the taped interview would be shown in the remaining two trials.

Blair is one of three people charged with Shane Hill's murder. Aron Moss, Blair's roommate at the time of the murder and alleged triggerman in the killing, is currently scheduled to go before a jury March 25, but his attorneys have laid the groundwork for a possible change of venue.

The trial for Jessica Hill, Shane Hill's wife and alleged co-conspirator in a plot to murder him, has been set for April 29.
March 26th, 2008 10:30 AM
Jade [b] Blair listed as witness in Aron Moss trial

By: Luke Jennett
The Tribune, Boone News-Republican


The prosecution in the case against Aron Moss, slated to go before a jury starting March 25 in Mason City, has laid groundwork to call former co-defendant Daniel Blair as a witness.

Both Moss and Blair are from Boone. Boone County Attorney Jim Robbins said Blair had waived his right to self-incrimination and agreed to testify at the trial. He declined to say whether or not Blair had been offered any deal in return for his testimony, saying he'd prefer that that information come out at trial.

Blair's inclusion on the list of prosecution witnesses indicates that prosecutors believe Blair could help them implicate Moss in the shooting. In an interview with police prior to their arrests, Blair said Moss had been the one who shot and killed Michael Shane" Hill last spring.

A video of this confession was played at Blair's trial and is believed to have been a key piece of evidence in securing the conviction. However, Assistant Attorney General Scott Brown, who will also prosecute against Moss, has said the taped interview will not be shown at Moss' trial. Moss' defense team of Steven and Loren Nalean has also listed witnesses that may be called at the trial. One, Dr. Otto MacLin of the Institute for Psychological Science at the University of Northern Iowa, will present expert testimony on eyewitnesses, which likely will be used to refute the testimony of Russ Dobson, who claimed during Blair's trial to have seen Moss walking near the murder scene with a rifle.

The other listed defense witness is Daniel Uhl, who reportedly was jailed with Blair and Moss when they were first incarcerated in Boone County, according to Robbins. Blair was convicted Feb. 19 of first-degree murder, a class A felony. His sentencing hearing recently was rescheduled to April 25. Co-defendant Jessica Hill planned to seek a change of venue at a scheduled hearing today.

Jessica Hill was Shane Hill's wife and allegedly conspired with Blair to have Shane Hill murdered. Moss was awarded a change of venue due to media saturation from Blair's trial. Moss also was scheduled to be in court today for a hearing on several motions, including a motion to suppress the testimony relating to the eyewitness. That hearing will take place at 9:30 a.m.

Blair, Moss and Jessica Hill all were arrested and charged with the murder of Shane Hill in June 2007. Shane Hill was shot May 28, 2007, with a high-powered rifle as he worked a sheep farm near Ogden.

Blair told police that Jessica Hill and he had discussed killing Shane Hill prior to the shooting, and that he and Moss had obtained the rifle, sighted it and taken it to the farm with the intent to commit the murder.

Blair said he handed Moss the bullets for the rifle one at a time.
March 26th, 2008 10:34 AM
Jade Trial in Sheep Farmer Slaying Delayed Over Phone Records

Associated Press

March 25, 2008

BOONE, Iowa (AP) - The trial of a Boone man accused in the death
of a sheep farmer near Ogden has been postponed over cell phone

A judge has delayed the first-degree murder trial of Aron Moss
because attorneys are having a hard time getting the records.

Moss is charged in the shooting death of Michael "Shane" Hill
last May. Prosecutors say Moss and two others, Daniel Blair and
Hill's wife, Jessica, plotted to kill him.

Defense attorneys want the records from Verizon Wireless because
prosecutors say Jessica Hill sent Blair a text message on the day
of the killing, and Blair allegedly sent one back.

Moss' trial was moved to Mason City, and was supposed to start
today. A hearing is set for Friday to determine a new date.

Blair was convicted of first-degree murder last month. Jessica
Hill is to go on trial in late April in Council Bluffs