DES MOINES, Iowa – A Des Moines man has been convicted of first-degree murder for the killing of his roommate in January. The 51-year-old, Surfun Boens, was found guilty by a Polk County jury in a trial that began last week. Prosecutors alleged that Boens killed 45-year-old Russell McKeehan Jr., who had been staying in his hotel room and whom he had not been able to have removed despite several calls to the police.
According to a news release from the Polk County Attorney’s Office, Boens called emergency responders on Jan. 13 and said that his “brother” was unresponsive in their hotel room. Officials found McKeehan dead from gunshot injuries. Witness testimonies indicated that they heard loud “thumps” that morning, which they believed to be gunshots, and evidence showed that Boens left and came back to the room multiple times in the hours between the shots and the 911 call.
Amanda Johnson, assistant Polk County attorney, stated that in the weeks leading up to the murder, Boens called the police twice trying to get McKeehan out of the room. Recorded conversations with the police and dispatchers revealed that Boens made several threatening statements to or about McKeehan. While police did not recover the murder weapon, they found several rounds of ammunition matching those fired at McKeehan around Boens’ room, as well as a seemingly pre-existing hole in Boens’ wall and previous text messages to his mother about having a gun.
During the trial, defense attorney Wendy Samuelson argued that there was a lack of evidence to prove Boens committed first-degree murder and claimed that the evidence pointed to voluntary manslaughter instead. The conviction carries a mandatory life sentence, and Boens is scheduled for sentencing on Jan. 12, as per report by Des Moines Register.
Russell McKeehan Jr.’s death was the second homicide of 2023, and the trial highlighted the tragic circumstances that led to the fatal shooting.