Kirk Levin talks this morning to his attorney, Charles Kenville, in a Sac County courtroom minutes before he is sentenced to life in prison for the January murder of his mother. Levin declined to ask for leniency during the hearing.
Kirk Levin talks this morning to his attorney, Charles Kenville, in a Sac County courtroom minutes before he is sentenced to life in prison for the January murder of his mother. Levin declined to ask for leniency during the hearing.
July 26, 2013



Sac City

Kirk Levin's uncles taunted him in court today minutes before a judge sentenced the man to life in prison for the brutal murder of his mother in January.

"Rot in prison," Mike and Mark Schmitt, both of Early, wrote in an official statement that was read in court this morning. "Rot in Hell, that you made for yourself.

"Your entire future will be spent looking through bars. Enjoy it. I will enjoy thinking of you there."

A jury convicted Levin, 21, of first-degree murder in June for cutting and stabbing his mother, Marilyn Schmitt, 88 times, choking her with a belt and bashing her head with a large glass bottle filled with coins - which broke her neck - in the upstairs bedroom of her rural Early house on Jan. 3, two days after Schmitt retrieved Levin from an eastern Iowa prison and had hoped to create a new, lawful life for him.

Levin had been incarcerated for more than two years for burglary.

"I don't understand how you go from stealing things to killing your mother in such a horrible way," Schmitt's mother, Sandra, wrote in her victim-impact statement. "She tried to help you.

"Thank the Lord the jury found you guilty of first-degree murder, so you can never hurt anyone else."

Levin was arrested hours after his mother's murder, when he kidnapped a 21-year-old Storm Lake woman but drove too fast on a snow- and ice-covered gravel road near his mother's house and went off the roadway. Levin ran from the car when a neighbor stopped to help and was found two miles away by a sheriff's deputy shivering near a barn with no shoes.

The jury - which deliberated on June 6 for just two hours - also found Levin guilty of kidnapping. The Storm Lake victim, Jessica Vega, asked Levin this morning in court to seek God's forgiveness.

"Kirk, could you please look at me?" she broke from her prepared statement when Levin stared elsewhere, as he did during the four-day trial. "I forgive you. I understand what you were going to do to me, to my daughter. ... Even though I have a reason to hate you, I don't."

Levin's attorney, Charles Kenville, asked a judge this morning to set aside the man's murder conviction because there was not enough evidence to convict him of first-degree murder, among other reasons. Kenville told jurors in his closing remarks of the June trial that they should find Levin guilty of second-degree murder, in which Levin could gain early release from prison for good behavior after about 22 years.

But District Judge Timothy Finn denied the request this morning.

"Clearly you're not insane. You knew what you were doing," Finn said to Levin today. "It was planned, and that's just reprehensible.

"I'm going to get this order out today so you can begin your trip to prison, today."

Finn imposed the required sentence of life in prison for the murder charge and $150,000 restitution to Marilyn Schmitt's estate. Finn also sentenced Levin to up to 10 years in prison for the kidnapping charge - a formality that has little effect alongside the murder sentence.

Levin is being transferred first to the Iowa Medical and Classification Center in Oakdale, which is the prison entry point for all Iowa inmates.