Jacob Seelinger testifies during his first-degree murder trial in Decorah Wednesday afternoon. (Photo by Sarah Strandberg)
Jacob Seelinger testifies during his first-degree murder trial in Decorah Wednesday afternoon. (Photo by Sarah Strandberg)
Jacob Seelinger said he was angry and anxious the day his mother’s boyfriend, David Hansen of Decorah, was assaulted July 12, 2018.
But he said he was not necessarily angry toward Hansen, who occasionally became physical with his mother, Calista Seelinger, and had been charged with assaulting her. Calista was living with Hansen at the time of the assault and also had a no-contact order against him.
Hansen was knocked unconscious during the attack and never regained consciousness. He died from his injuries Aug. 31. Jacob Seelinger, 18, Decorah, and his friend Dalton Adam, 19, Decorah, are charged with first-degree murder in connection with the assault. Adam’s trial is scheduled to start Oct. 28. Seelinger’s murder trial in Decorah began Monday.
The state rested its case Wednesday morning and the defense rested Wednesday afternoon, after calling one witness, Seelinger. Closing arguments start Thursday morning.
Seelinger said he talked to Hansen a few times about his treatment of his mother and the last time was about a week before the assault.
“We discussed how my mother likes him -- loves, him. It’s something she wanted to work out. But it hurts my family knowing what he does to her,” Seelinger said.
He said the talks went fairly well, but Hansen “just shrugged the conversation off.”
Seelinger said his mother didn’t have to tell him when Hansen had been abusive toward her, because he could see the bruises on her body and she would call him and ask him for a ride.
“I just knew,” he told Assistant Iowa Attorney General Scott Brown during cross examination.
Seelinger and Adam were at the Winneshiek County fair with friends before the assault. They’d both been drinking and had taken Xanax and been involved in two altercations before they left. Seelinger said he was agitated because he’d lost his wallet, hat and sunglasses. A friend later drove the two men and Calista Seelinger to Hansen’s house. Calista wanted Hansen to calm her son down and help her get him to his father’s house, where he lived.
“When you left the fair you were angry and wanting to go to Dave’s?” Brown asked.
“I was not directly angry at Dave,” Seelinger responded.
Brown said Seelinger was clearly angry in video of Seelinger’s arrest and kept repeating “he (Hansen) beat my mom.”
“You are angry at David Hansen because he beat your mom,” Brown said.
“Not angry, just anxious. I had many different emotions due to the alcohol and drugs,” Seelinger said.
Brown said Seelinger told the officer that transported him to jail after his arrest that he hoped Hansen would die. Seelinger said he didn’t remember the drive. He said he had more than one “memory gap” that night.
Through his questioning, Brown tried to show that Adam, who had no previous relationship with Hansen, would have no reason to be angry with Hansen.
Defense attorney James Metcalf described Adam, who is taller and heavier than Seelinger, as Seelinger’s “protector.”

The assault
Seelinger, his mother, and Adam arrived at Hansen’s residence after the fair, and Calista went inside the house. Seelinger testified he threw things at the house, including the leg off a broken end table in the driveway, to get his mother’s attention. He said he would have been afraid to knock on the door and have Hansen come to the door.
Hansen eventually came outside to find Seelinger and Adam.
“David said little Jacob, where you at, it’s time for your ass beating,” Seelinger testified.
The three men were together in front of the house and Adam responded with an “angry, shouting remark” toward Hansen, Seelinger said.
Hansen made a comment and before Adam could respond, Hansen punched Adam in the upper lip and nose, the defendant said.
Seelinger said Hansen thought Adam would “go down” from the blow and approached him. But Adam “recuperated” and put both hands up. Seelinger said he’s not sure how many times Adam swung at Hansen, but when he “connected” Hansen fell straight back onto the pavement. His said his mother attempted to catch Hansen but was unable to.
Seelinger said Adam started hitting Hansen in the face after he was on the ground unconscious. Calista tried to put herself in the middle more than once, but Seelinger testified he did not try to stop Adam.
At one point, Seelinger said Adam told Calista “You’ll protect him (Hansen) over your own son.”
The beating continued and Adam was yelling and screaming, said Seelinger, who said he did not beat or kick Hansen.
“I heard a loud crack and saw numerous punches and kicks,” Seelinger said.
Adam eventually told Seelinger they needed to leave and Calista called 911 to report the attack.
Seelinger said he stole a truck from a business down the road from Hansen’s residence and made his way toward the Haugen Hummel Addition where his father lives. He said he got the truck “stuck” on purpose on the way because it was stolen.
Seelinger said his father told them they could not stay at his house because “cops were looking for us.”
“DJ (Adam) took off deeper into the neighborhood and I headed toward the street. I knew they were coming so I gave myself up,” Seelinger said.
Adam became the subject of a manhunt and ultimately was arrested on a warrant in Crawford County, Wis. the next day. Adam is being held in the Winneshiek County Jail.
“If you didn’t go to David Hansen’s house, none of this would have happened. You have to bear that responsibility don’t you Mr. Seelinger?” Brown asked at the conclusion of his cross examination.
“Sort of – to an extent,” Seelinger responded.