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Iowa City Man Accused of Murdering Neighbor

By Dave Franzman, Reporter

By Dave Franzman

IOWA CITY - Iowa City police say a chess game argument turned deadly overnight.

The incident started just after 3:00 a.m. Sunday morning at 418 Brown Street in Iowa City. That's the address of a large rooming house complex.

Police found Michael Steward, 39, unresponsive at the scene. He was taken to Mercy Medical Center just blocks away where he was pronounced dead.

After hours of investigation, police charged David Christian, 29, with second degree murder and public intoxication. Police did not say yet how Steward died, but they did say the incident started with an early morning game of chess Sunday.

Investigators believe Steward and Christian started arguing over the game. That argument turned into a physical fight. Police say during that dispute Christian killed Steward.

One neighbor, Jessie Witherell, says the two often drank together--but she never saw any bad feelings, much less violence.

"They like to hang out and part of whatever happened was an accident I don't think they meant to hurt each other," she said.

Witherell said the two played chess together often and it wasn't a shock they were doing in the the early morning hours Sunday.

Another neighbor in the same building at 418 Brown Street also knew the two hung out together and never saw any problems.

Gail Cox said "if it's the two I'm thinking of no, they drank a lot and hung out here a lot but aside from that, that's all I know."

Police did not say if any kind of a weapon was involved and only mentioned a fight. Preliminary autopsy results for Steward are expected later this week.