Levin confessed in interviews

Kirk Levin confessed in two videotaped interviews to killing his mother and kidnapping Jessica Vega.

“I had to have killed my mother. I can’t explain why I did it or what I was thinking. I remember walking into her room and choking her,” Levin said in a written confession at the end of the second interview with law enforcement officials.

Levin, 21, is on trial in Webster County District Court for the first-degree murder of his mother, Marilyn Schmitt, 45, of Early, and the kidnapping of Vega, 21, of Storm Lake, on Jan. 3.

Dr. Jonathan Thompson, associate state medical examiner, testified that Schmitt’s death was a homicide caused by choking, sharp-force injuries and blunt force injuries. She had a belt encircling her neck when he examined her during an autopsy and he noted 88 sharp force injuries which could have been caused by a knife or other sharp object.

Both sides finished presenting evidence Wednesday. Attorneys are expected to give closing arguments this morning.

Levin declined to testify on his own behalf after the defense called no witnesses.

Prosecutors showed two of Levin’s videotaped interviews to jurors.

In the first one, Levin confessed that Vega’s kidnapping was the result of a sexual fantasy.

“Did you ever have a fantasy about having sex with anybody pregnant or kidnapping?” asked Waterloo Police Officer John Koontz, a former detective with the Storm Lake Police Department.

“Yes,” Levin replied.

He also admitted to kidnapping Vega.

“I told her I kidnapped her,” he told investigators.

He said his sexual fantasies involved intercourse and bondage, and added he didn’t have time to act on those fantasies.

“I think there was too little time,” Levin told investigators. “I was only with her a couple hours.”

In his second video, Levin repeatedly denied killing his mother.

“I would never kill my mom,” Levin said. “I wouldn’t kill her. Never.”

He claimed bruises on his hands were caused by frostbite and not a struggle.

Near the end of the video, Levin changed his story.

“Did you kill her, Kirk?” Koontz asked him.

“I had to, yes,” Levin replied.

“Why do you think you had to?”

“Because nobody else could have done it. … I was the only one there.”

Karl Franzenburg, a criminalist with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, testified that the rope found in Schmitt’s car was the same kind that was found in the barn on Schmitt’s property. He also determined a knife blade found in Schmitt’s trunk and a handle found under Schmitt’s body were from the same knife.

Richard Crivello, a latent fingerprint examiner in the DCI crime lab, testified that no usable fingerprints were found on the knife blade, knife handle or the steering wheel.

Thompson documented all the injuries he found during the autopsy.

“She had a nylon and leather belt around her neck which had been threaded through the buckle, forming a noose,” Thompson said. “There were bloodlike stains on Ms. Schmitt’s face, neck, chest, both upper arms, both legs as well as on the bottom of her feet.”

He said there was also evidence of strangulation and broken vertebrae, as well as injuries to different muscles and a collapsed lung.

Jurors were shown graphic photos of Schmitt’s body, including closeups of the injuries to her neck.

While being shown the photos, Thompson explained the differences between different types of stabbing injuries.

“A sharp force injury is a whole category of injuries,” he said. “A stab wound is a wound that is deeper than it is wide. An incised wound is longer than it is deep.”

He also said Schmitt had no defensive wounds on her body.

“It’s usually categorized as a person injured by a stab wound,” Thompson said. “It’s a natural tendency to protect yourself by putting your hands or your feet up. In defensive wounds, you see lots of sharp force injuries to the forearms or legs.”

Thompson added he couldn’t determine what caused Schmitt’s neck to break.

“It’s possibly a ligature or potentially some type of blow to the head,” he said. “It’s difficult to say.”

He couldn’t pinpoint an exact time of death, only saying with certainty she died between the last time she was seen alive and when she was found.

Though he classified Schmitt’s death as a homicide, Thompson said this is a neutral term.

“It doesn’t imply right or wrong,” Thompson said. “It just means that someone died at the hands of another individual and does not equal murder.”

Judge Timothy Finn said jurors will hear closing arguments beginning around 9:30 today.

“You should be prepared to stay here in the courthouse for the remainder of the day,” Finn said. “Once you begin deliberations, I will keep you here until you reach a verdict.”

However, he added if they don’t reach a verdict by Thursday afternoon, they will be allowed to go home.

The case is being prosecuted by Sac County Attorney Ben Smith and Assistant Iowa Attorney General Doug Hammerand. Levin is represented by Charles Kenville, of Fort Dodge.