County Attorney

Johnson County Attorney Rachel Zimmermann Smith announced today, Wednesday, Oct. 18, that two juveniles have been charged in Johnson County Juvenile Court with two counts of Homicide by Vehicle (Joint Criminal Conduct /Aiding and Abetting) and Involuntary Manslaughter (Joint Criminal Conduct/Aiding and Abetting)  for causing a fatal collision that resulted in the death of Jennifer Russell, 22. 

On May 27, 2023, at approximately 10:45 p.m., Russell was in her vehicle, a 2017 Chevy Malibu stopped at the stop sign at the intersection of East Court St. and South 7th Ave. in Iowa City. As Russell pulled into the intersection, her vehicle was struck by a 2008 Saturn VUE traveling at a high rate of speed. Russell died as a result of the injuries from the collision. 

Witnesses reported seeing the VUE driving next to a white 2012 GMC Acadia on East Court St. traveling toward the intersection at a high rate of speed. The driver of the VUE was identified as a 17-year-old male Juvenile #1. The driver of the Acadia was identified as a 17-year-old male Juvenile #2.

An investigation was conducted including a review of data collected from the vehicles and the cellular telephone of the drivers. The review revealed that Juvenile #1 and Juvenile #2 were next to each other on East Court St., driving east at a high speed. Both juveniles were driving at a speed of at least 25 miles over the posted speed limit of 25 miles per hour and failed to stop at a stop sign. The VUE struck Russell’s vehicle as she entered the intersection causing the vehicle to strike the Acadia.  

The Johnson County Attorney’s Office will seek to waive jurisdiction from juvenile court to Johnson County District Court for both juveniles. Homicide by Vehicle-in violation of Iowa Code 707.6A(2)(a), 707.6A(2)(c) is a Class C Felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison.  Homicide by Vehicle-in violation of Iowa Code 707.6A(4) and Involuntary Manslaughter in violation of 707.5(1) are Class D felonies punishable by up to 5 years in prison.

It is important to note that a criminal charge is merely an accusation, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.