- Associated Press - Saturday, January 24, 2015

DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) - A Davenport businessman could face six months in jail and have to pay restitution after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor for the June 2013 death of his brother-in-law.

The Quad-City Times reports (https://bit.ly/1GP0LDO ) 52-year-old Joseph Van Heckle is set to be sentenced on March 10 in Scott County District Court.

Van Hecke pleaded guilty to assault causing injury. In exchange for his plea, prosecutors will drop the more serious charge of involuntary manslaughter.

Prosecutors are expected to ask for a 180-day jail sentence. Van Hecke has agreed to pay $142,500 in restitution to the heirs of Douglas Whalen. Van Hecke also will pay $7,795.03 toward the crime victim fund and a fine of $315, according to the plea agreement.

Van Hecke declined comment Friday.

His plea comes less than two weeks before he was scheduled to be tried a second time in the death of Whalen, 45.

Police say Van Hecke and Whalen got into a fight during a party at Modern Woodmen Park in Davenport on June 13, 2013, when Van Hecke hit Whalen in the head, leading to his death.

At trial, Van Hecke’s attorney argued he was justified in striking Whalen, whose blood-alcohol level was nearly three times the legal limit for driving when he picked up Van Hecke’s son in a bear hug.

Prosecutors argued Van Hecke had alternatives to hitting Whalen, including removing the boy from the scene to tend to him.

Jurors in the first trial were unable to reach a verdict, prompting Scott County District Judge John Telleen to declare a mistrial.


Information from: Quad-City Times, https://www.qctimes.com

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