Judge allows talk of man's violent fantasies
Kirk Levin's defense attorney argued that the videotaped arrest interview that discussed bondage and rape should be withheld from jurors
June 5, 2013
Kirk Levin sits with his attorney Charles Kenville as prosecutors play a video of Levin’s interview with investigators after his January arrest.
Jurors heard Kirk Levin admit to having violent sexual fantasies in a videotaped interview this morning in the second day of testimony at his murder trial.
His attorney, Charles Kenville, had asked a judge to withhold the parts of the interview that discussed the fantasies.
"These aren't really his statements," Kenville argued. "They're more him acquiescing to the officers' statements."
The talk of the violent fantasies is important to the case because Kenville hopes to show that Levin is innocent of his accused crimes because of his "state of mind" at the time he allegedly committed them. Kenville claims that when Levin told a Storm Lake woman that he was kidnapping her, "just because he says those words doesn't mean it's true."
Levin, 21, of Early, faces charges of kidnapping and first-degree murder for stabbing and choking to death his mother on Jan. 3 and kidnapping another woman. The murder charge is punishable by up to life in prison. But jurors instead can find him guilty of lesser, related charges, such as misdemeanor assault.
Some evidence of Levin's past behavior - such as his 2010 felony burglary conviction - is not permitted to be used as evidence in this week's trial under Iowa law. For example, prosecutors had to gloss over the fact that Levin went to live with his mother, Marilyn Schmitt, when he was released from an eastern Iowa prison, where he had been incarcerated for the burglary conviction. Schmitt, 45, was killed two days later.
But district Judge Timothy Finn ruled this morning that the talk of fantasies is permissible in court as evidence of Levin's intent to commit the alleged January crimes.
"A lot of the interrogation and questioning has been cut back," Finn said of the redacted portions of Levin's videotaped interviews, "and what is left is relevant to the issue of what the defendant's intent was in the kidnapping."
Jessica Vega, 21, the alleged kidnapping victim, testified Tuesday that she was afraid Levin planned to rape her in Schmitt's rural Early house as Schmitt lay dead upstairs.
Prosecutors allege that Levin went into Schmitt's bedroom in the early morning hours of Jan. 3 after Schmitt had gone to sleep and cut her 88 times with a kitchen knife. Pictures and video of Schmitt's bedroom shown in court on Tuesday revealed a gory scene: There's blood on the bed, floor, blankets, dresser drawers, with a large circular blood stain on a piece of plywood that leaned against a wall.
There was a large glass bottle filled with coins that Levin allegedly used to bash the back of Schmitt's head. The bottle broke and spewed coins across the bedroom floor.
There was a lamp and light bulb broken in the apparent struggle.
There was Schmitt, face-down on the ground in white pajamas soaked with her blood. She had gaping gashes on her left leg and arm and a belt around her neck that had been tightened from behind.
Investigators found under her body a handle of the knife that was used to kill her.
Levin allegedly left the house and drove Schmitt's car to Storm Lake, where he duped Vega into giving him a ride back to Schmitt's house and bound Vega's hands with yellow rope.
Vega testified Tuesday that Levin took her inside the house and set her on a sleeping bag in a downstairs room and took off her boots.
"I thought at this point that he was going to rape me," Vega said. "I thought, 'Just get over it and do it, and whenever he fell asleep to somehow escape.'"
As a teenager, Levin told a psychiatrist at the Mendota Mental Health Institute in Wisconsin that he had violent sexual fantasies about drugging and raping girls, according to court records.
He said he used cold medicines and alcohol to try to drug a girl.
"And when asked, 'What would you do if she drank it and it worked,' meaning it put her to sleep, 'would you have gone through with raping her?' " a Wisconsin prosecutor said in a court hearing. "His answer was 'Yes.'"
Levin allegedly admitted that he researched how to build a soundproof room, where he could rape without worrying that someone outside would hear.
Jurors will not hear the Wisconsin evidence at the trial this week.
But Levin admitted in the videotaped interview after his arrest that was shown this morning in court that he has had fantasies of binding the hands and feet of a woman and having anal sex with her against her will.
In the interview, Levin did little to elaborate on the fantasies but answered "Yeah" to investigators' questions about whether he had thought about kidnapping a woman and tying her up and having so-called "bondage" sex.
On Jan. 3, as Vega sat on the sleeping bag in Schmitt's house and Levin took off her boots, Vega convinced Levin that they needed to retrieve Vega's 5-year-old daughter from Storm Lake before school began - as they had previously agreed when Vega said she wouldn't fight back against the kidnapping. There would be too many witnesses if they waited until after school started, Vega said she told him.
So Levin put on Vega's boots and later put her in the front seat of her car with her daughter's sweater over her head and drove toward Storm Lake.
Levin then lost control of the car on an icy gravel road and went into a ditch. He fled when a farmer stopped to help.
Sac County Deputy Tory Cudaback tracked Levin to a barn about two miles north of Schmitt's house, he testified this morning. Levin had trudged through snow along a creek bed in a blue jacket and pajama pants and lost his shoes along the way. His pants were soaked.
Cudaback told him to get on the ground and cuffed him and asked if he was Kirk Levin.
"Yes, I am," Levin replied. "I'm very cold."
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