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Iowa Man Sentenced to Decades in Prison for Fatal Car Crash After High Speed Chase on Drugs — and Unrelated, Bloody Hatchet Attack


Branden Authement appears in a mugshot

An Iowa man was sentenced to several decades in prison for a fatal car crash committed under the influence of drugs, as well as an unrelated hatchet attack that occurred late last year.

Branden Authement, 33, recently pleaded guilty to charges of homicide by vehicle-operating under the influence, serious injury by vehicle, and theft in the second degree, according to court documents obtained by Waterloo, Iowa-based NBC affiliate KWWL.

While those three charges netted him nearly 50 years in prison, they are a far cry from the dozen original charges on which he was arrested in February of this year – based on multiple warrants from various incidents leading up to the crash that took the life of 54-year-old Nancy Meisenburg and seriously injured 62-year-old Anthony Livens.

According to court documents obtained by the Telegraph Herald, immediately prior to the crash, Authement stole a vehicle from a convenience store parking lot, ran a red light at one intersection and then went on to run three more red lights – with his speed increasing apace. The fourth time, however, he broadsided the car being driven by Livens and in which Meisenburg was a passenger.

Police in the area later analyzed the rate of speed the defendant was traveling from the initial theft until the crash. On average, for the first 10 blocks, he was clocking in at 60 mph; for the last two blocks until the collision, he was going an average of 83 mph. Law enforcement noted the presence of methamphetamine in a blood sample taken after he was admitted to a nearby hospital to treat his injuries.

Authement also had another warrant out for his arrest by the time he was charged in February of this year. While the crash happened in late December 2021, in late October 2021, the defendant allegedly struck another man in the face with a hatchet during an argument.

Police in the hatchet attack responded to the residence of Damien Godfrey. Authement was there with the eventual victim, Will C. Thomas, Jr., when Audrey A. Clancy walked in that night.

Clancy and Authement, at the time, lived together and were in a romantic relationship. The couple argued once she arrived.

“Clancy eventually left the residence without Authement’s knowledge, which upset him when he did find out,” court documents obtained by the Herald say. “According to witnesses, Authement began walking back and forth, ‘talking all crazy, like demonish.'”

Thomas reportedly intervened to try and calm Authement down but the already-frantic situation quickly spiraled from there.

The defendant grabbed a machete off the wall and “indicated he was going to go after Thomas,” according to those documents. Next, Godfrey intervened, disarming Authement of the machete.

Then came the hatchet.

“According to Godfrey, Authement walked up from behind Thomas (and) grabbed him by the forehead, tilting his head backwards,” the court documents state. “While Authement was swinging the hatchet toward Thomas, Thomas was able to move his head, at which time the hatchet struck him in the mouth, causing a significant laceration to the mouth and tongue with profuse bleeding from the oral cavity and the loss of multiple teeth.”

Clancy, who had left at some point, then re-entered the bedroom in question. Authement then allegedly pushed his then-girlfriend to the ground, grabbed a rifle and chambered some ammunition. He was eventually talked down by Godfrey, according to court documents, and then he left.

According to KWWL, the defendant, as part of his plea deal, received 35 years in connection with the vehicle incidents and 15 years in connection with the hatchet attack and gun menacing. He was also ordered to pay $150,000 in restitution to the family of the woman he killed.

[image via Dubuque Law Enforcement Center]

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