Potential jurors admit bias against Early murder suspect
June 3, 2013
Kirk Levin, 21, averts his eyes this morning as assistant Iowa Attorney General Douglas Hammerand questions potential jurors at a district courtroom in Fort Dodge. Levin is accused of stabbing his mother to death in her rural Early home in January and faces felony murder and kidnapping charges.
At least one potential juror said today that he had already decided whether Kirk Levin is guilty of murdering his mother and kidnapping another woman because of the pre-trial publicity of the crimes.
"I've already made up my mind," the man said this morning as lawyers attempted to find a jury of 12 men and women who could give Levin, 21, a fair trial this week.
Levin faces felony murder and kidnapping charges for allegedly strangling and stabbing to death his mother, Marilyn Schmitt, 45, in her bedroom of a rural Early house on Jan. 3, and for kidnapping a 21-year-old Storm Lake woman later that morning.
The woman escaped when Levin allegedly drove too fast on an icy gravel road and went into a ditch about 8 a.m. that day.
A judge moved Levin's trial from Sac County to Webster County to find impartial jurors. At least three potential jurors were excused from jury duty this morning in Fort Dodge.
It has been widely reported that Levin admitted to the kidnapping and murder.
"Kirk Levin admits to law enforcement that he was the only one who could have killed the victim," Sac County Sheriff Ken McClure wrote in the criminal complaint against Levin, who "admitted that he choked his mother and that he had to have killed her."
Levin's attorney, Charles Kenville, had asked a judge to withhold the confession from this week's trial because Levin told investigators he "might (want or need) myself a lawyer" amid the hours-long interview in which he confessed but was not given a lawyer.
But judges have ruled that the request for a lawyer must be clearly stated for investigators to halt an interview following an arrest.
District Judge Timothy Finn denied last week Kenville's request to suppress the confession. Finn also denied another request to move the trial away from Webster County, which Kenville asked because of a recent kidnapping and apparent murder in the area in which the alleged perpetrator later shot and killed himself.
Levin faces life in prison for the murder charge. Jury selection continued this afternoon. Levin's trial is expected to last for at least one week.
He was released from an eastern Iowa prison on New Year's Day from a felony burglary conviction. His mother gave Levin a ride back to her Early house at 2242 Ira Ave., where he allegedly stabbed her to death between 1:30 and 5:45 a.m. on Jan. 3. Investigators found the woman face-down on the floor of her bedroom with a belt around her neck.
Levin allegedly drove to Storm Lake and asked an acquaintance there for a ride home. When they arrived, Levin allegedly coaxed the woman into a barn and bound her with rope.
The woman later told investigators that Levin put her in the car and drove off but went into a ditch a short time later. A passerby neighbor stopped to help and apparently spooked Levin, who fled to a nearby river and walked along it for more than a mile. He was found 40 minutes later shivering with no shoes next to an old farm building, investigators have said.
Levin, who is originally from Wisconsin, has a well-documented history of violent sexual fantasies, court records from Iowa and Wisconsin show, but has not been convicted of a sex crime.
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