LAKE PARK, Iowa (KCAU) — A woman accused of a 2020 Lake Park murder is accused of tampering with a witness while another murder suspect in the case is set to change his plea.
Authorities received a report, in December 2020, of a dead woman in a Lake Park residence. She was identified as Angel Bastman, 25, and her death was ruled a homicide.
Officials said evidence and eyewitnesses placed Justice Berntson, 24, and Allison Decker, 26, at Bastman’s residence from 10 a.m. December 21 to 5 a.m. on December 22. After Bastman’s death, Berntson and Decker were found in Sioux City with items that belonged to Bastman and her family members.
Berntson was arrested on December 26, 2020, for eluding police as they were searching for a vehicle involved in Bastman’s homicide. He is currently serving prison time for a parole violation.
Authorities charged Berntson and Decker with first-degree murder, second-degree theft, and conspiracy to commit non-forcible felony.
On Friday in the Dickinson County District Court, Berntson’s attorney requested a change of plea hearing. It has been scheduled to take place on December 17 at 2 p.m. Berntson originally pleaded not guilty on August 23.
Meanwhile, an application for a civil injunction to restrain harassment or intimidation of a witness was filed against Decker on Friday. The application stated, on September 8, authorities were made aware that Decker has been texting witnesses in her case. Prosecutors filed the messages in the case on September 7 with the court reviewing them, saying that at worst, Decker was “attempting to convince individuals to change their testimony, and at best, these messaged reflect to the court the defendant does not appreciate the seriousness of the charges she faces.”
On September 8, Decker said she wouldn’t contact witnesses, the document states.
On November 4, authorities were told of a text from October 17 that asked, if a witness was out of jail, to have a witness use a “TextNow number.” Authorities were also made aware of a call Decker made on October 22, saying she can’t say a certain person’s name due to not having contact. Instead, she tells the third party to tell the caller to have a certain person talk to her using a TextNow number. On the phone call, she later references the certain person, a witness in the case.
Prosecutors have asked for a temporary protective order, and the court has approved against Decker, so she cannot send or receive correspondence from others except her attorney. The court will consider a final protective order which is being considered Monday.
A jury trial for Decker is scheduled to start on May 17, 2022.