A 26-year-old Lafayette, IN man was set to go on trial Monday, March 25, 2019 for first-degree murder in the killing of a 26-year-old woman in August 2017. Her body was also burned. Instead, he pleaded guilty to attempt to commit murder, desecration of a corpse, and accessory after the fact. Those charges are respectively considered a class B felony, a class D felony and an aggravated misdemeanor in the state of Iowa.
Had the man gone to trial and been found guilty of first-degree murder, his sentence would have been life in prison. Instead, his attorney was able to negotiate a plea agreement with prosecutors for these lesser charges. He will now be sentenced on April 22, 2019 at the Webster County Courthouse in Fort Dodge. In addition to the sentence, he will also be ordered to pay $150,000 to the family of the deceased. There was also a second, female Defendant in this case. Her trial is not set to begin until June. However, the family of the deceased sued her for wrongful death and punitive damages. That lawsuit is pending, and claims that the husband has suffered loss of love, affection and companionship. The couple also had minor children.
In Iowa, a Class B felony is punishable by up to 25 years in prison. A Class D felony is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of $750 to $7,500. An aggravated misdemeanor is the most serious of all misdemeanors and is punishable by up to two years in jail in addition to a fine of $625 to $6,250.
Had the Defendant in this case not obtained legal counsel, it is highly unlikely that he would have received any lesser charges. When faced with charges of this magnitude, a defendant should never go into a courtroom alone.