OSKALOOSA — Alicia Ritenour was in the Mahaska County courtroom Tuesday and Wednesday, seeking post-conviction relief.
Ritenour, who was convicted in November of 2014 of first-degree murder and child endangerment of her daughter, Ava Ritenour, sought post-conviction relief. In a previous appeal in June of 2016, Ritenour claimed evidence was improperly excluded and her then-counsel was ineffective. That appeal upheld Ritenour's conviction.
After hearing from witnesses and being presented with evidence Sept. 11 and 12, 2018, Judge Daniel Wilson asked Ritenour's attorney, Gina Messamer, to present a brief by Sept. 21, to which county attorney James Blomgren will give a response by Oct. 12. Wilson will then determine the next course of action.
Over the course of two days, Messamer and Blomgren.called several witnesses to the stand, including Connie Lee, a legal secretary employed with the Iowa Attorney General's Office. Messamer asked Lee to describe her duties and responsibilities.
Following Lee's testimony, Messamer called upon Dr. Matthew Webster, who testified via telephone. Webster was asked to describe the effects of methamphetamine on users, including crash and withdrawal signs symptoms.
Jennifer Lobberecht was called as a witness by Messamer and asked to speak about her relationships in particular with former boyfriend Logan Cavan as well as Jacob Rauch. Rauch, according to an appeal document, was Ritenour's boyfriend at the time of Ava's death. Rauch and Cavan were both living in Ritenour's apartment with Ritenour and another juvenile.
Lobberecht also spoke about her, Cavan and Rauch's drug use and stated Rauch confessed to her about killing Ava.
Dr. Carl Wigren, a forensic pathologist called by Messamer, testified regarding Ava's fatal injuries.
Blomgren, having had opportunity to cross-examine witnesses called by Messamer, called Mahaska County Sheriff Russell Van Renterghem to provide testimony. Van Renterghem, who was then a Lieutenant with the Oskaloosa Police Department, was the first responder on the scene. Van Renterghem described his actions upon arrival as well as observations of the surroundings.
Police Officer Lt. Troy Boston was also asked to give testimony. Boston also spoke about arriving on the scene and his actions, observations and conversations he had with those present and also spoke about interactions with Lobberecht.
Blomgren called forensic pathologist, Dr. Michele Catellier, an associate medical examiner for the State of Iowa to speak. Catellier, who autopsied Ava, testified regarding her injuries and how those injuries might have been sustained.
Department of Criminal Investigation Special Agent Don Schnitker testified about his participation in the case, his findings and interviews.
Ritenour listened to the proceedings, occasionally taking notes.
Managing Editor Angie Holland can be reached at email@example.com and followed on Twitter @OskyAngie