Trial again delayed for man charged with abusing corpse

A Marshalltown man accused of abusing a corpse has been granted another continuance for his trial.

Max E. Nelson Jr., 56, is charged in connection with the slaying of David Warnell, who was killed during a drug deal dispute in Marshalltown last fall.

Nelson is charged with accessory after the fact, first-degree theft and abuse of a corpse.

Jeremy Gartin, a 30-year-old Marshalltown man who shot Warnell in the head, was convicted of voluntary manslaughter by a Cerro Gordo County jury in December and sentenced to 87 years in prison.

Warnell’s body was mutilated post-mortem – his teeth, fingertips and tattoos removed and later discovered in garbage bags by police officers. His body was tied up and wrapped in a sleeping bag in the basement of the home Gartin shared with his father at 502 N. Fourth Ave.

During Gartin’s trial, in which Nelson testified for the prosecution, Nelson said he did not participate in mutilating Warnell’s body. Nelson said he helped move Warnell’s body to the basement and hid evidence because Gartin had threatened to hurt Nelson’s family.

On Friday, District Court Judge James McGlynn granted a continuance for a jury trial after Nelson’s attorney, Aaron Siebrecht, a public defender, filed the motion.

Nelson is currently in prison after being sentenced in January to less than three years for delivering methamphetamine to an undercover narcotics officer in 2012. In that case, the Marshall County Attorney’s office kept a plea deal on the table for more than a year. As part of the plea agreement, the state dropped two charges and recommended a reduced sentence.

During Gartin’s trial it was revealed that Nelson was a confidential informant for the Mid-Iowa Drug Task Force.

Following sentencing for the drug charge, Nelson filed a motion for reconsideration of his sentence, which was denied by Judge James Ellefson.

Marshall County Attorney Jennifer Miller said Nelson has not been offered a plea deal for his current charges.

If convicted, Nelson faces up to 17 years in prison.

Nelson’s trial was originally scheduled for December. The new trial date, June 3, marks the fourth time the trial has been delayed.