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Friends say attempted-murder suspect had troubled past

BY ERIC MOORE | DECEMBER 05, 2011 7:20 AM

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Friends of Branden Plummer said he experienced a few rough patches growing up.

Plummer, a University of Iowa student, was charged last week with attempted murder of an Iowa City police officer.

Kelly Rapp, 20, who has known Plummer since third grade and attended Valley High School with him in West Des Moines, said his friend had "unfortunate circumstances growing up."

Rapp said Plummer's father died of cancer a few years following his parents' divorce.

"He already had a poor family situation." Rapp said. "I'm sure that [his death] did affect him."

Plummer, 20, was charged with attempted murder after he allegedly strangled Iowa City police Sgt. Brian Krei and slammed his head against the ground on Nov. 18 before fleeing the scene.

Police arrested Plummer on Nov. 29 after an anonymous tip identified him based on a wanted poster in an Iowa City Kum 'N' Go.

Police report said Plummer was disrupting traffic on the intersection of Linn and Burlington Streets before Krei attempted to stop him, at which point Plummer began to fight.

According to Iowa court documents, Plummer was charged with an OWI July 2010.

Rapp said Plummer crashed into a house shortly after his father's death.

"It was at a T-intersection, and you know even that was unfortunate, because he was driving another friend home who had drank too much that night," Rapp said.

Kelly Rapp's father, John Rapp, said Plummer lived at their residence for a portion of his final semester of high school.

Though Rapp said there was "no logical reason" for the incident with the police officer, he said Plummer had difficult teenage years.

"I describe the whole situation as extremely sad," Rapp said. "His dad had passed away of cancer … prior to that, his mom and dad had gotten divorced, and his mom probably didn't give him as much attention as was probably warranted."

He said Plummer had issues with his mother and stepfather that caused him to move into the Rapp home.

"His mom came over, and we chatted about it in our living room," Rapp said. "Everything was agreeable, and she was fine with him coming to stay with us, which made it a little easier."

Plummer's mother was unable to be reached Sunday evening.

Rapp said despite Plummer's difficulties, he didn't observe any obvious change in his Plummer's demeanor.

"Even though it might have been a troubling situation, it wasn't a horrible situation," Rapp said. "Everybody has issues when they grow up, everyone's got this or that to go through. I wouldn't have described it as anything different from other people who went through divorces or that kind of thing."

UI student Sara Allen, who knew Plummer in high school, said he was always nice.

"… he hasn't had the easiest life, but he's a very good kid," she said, and she belives his father's death "made him who he is."

But Allen said it's hard to tell how much the death affected Plummer.

"I don't know if that affected him more than we think it did or what," Allen said. "It's not an excuse for anything, but it could have affected him. He's obviously made a very big mistake, but he's a good kid."

Patrick Ingram, Plummer's attorney, declined to comment Sunday evening.

As of Sunday, Plummer was being held on a $100,000 cash-only bond at Muscatine County Jail.

Plummer is set to appear in court for an initial hearing at 2 p.m. today at the Johnson County Courthouse.


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