Kirk Levin gets life sentence

SAC CITY – Convicted murderer Kirk Levin was sentenced to life in prison Friday, more than a month after a jury found him guilty of killing his mother.

Levin, 21, of Early was convicted on June 6 of killing Marilyn Schmitt, 45, of Early.

He was also sentenced to 10 years in prison for kidnapping Jessica Vega, 21, of Storm Lake on Jan. 3, the same day Schmitt was killed. Schmitt’s body was found during the investigation into Vega’s kidnapping.

Schmitt had 88 sharp force injuries on her body, which were believed to have been caused by a kitchen knife.

At Levin’s sentencing Friday, Teresa Schilmoeller, a survivor of homicide advocate from Sioux City, read three victim impact statements written by members of Schmitt’s family.

The first letter was written by Sandra Schmitt’s, Marilyn Schmitt’s mother. In her letter, Sandra Schmitt told Levin she was “so angry with you, Kirk.”

“I don’t feel like I’ve ever known you at all,” Schilmoeller read from Sandra Schmitt’s letter. “Everything you ever said or wrote to us was a lie. I don’t understand how you go from stealing things to killing your mother in such a horrible way.”

Levin was released from a Wisconsin prison just 36 hours before he killed his mother and kidnapped Vega.

“You killed the one person who tried you help you in every way,” Sandra Schmitt’s letter read. “She tried to help you become a better person and lead a good life.”

Sandra Schmitt’s letter also criticized the decision to release Levin from prison. His sentence was five years, but he was released after just over two.

“Marilyn would still be with us if you could have been locked up permanently,” she wrote in her letter. “Thank God the jury found you guilty of first-degree murder so you won’t have the chance to hurt somebody else.”

Marilyn Schmitt’s sister, Molly Heneman, also wrote a letter that was read by Schilmoeller.

“At first when I thought about writing this, all I wanted to tell you was how much of a waste of skin you are,” Heneman’s letter read. “How you wasted 21 years of my life worrying about you and carrying about you.”

She went on to write that Schmitt cared about Levin and “worked hard to try and help” him.

“How could you?” Heneman asked Levin in the letter. “What did she ever do to you? Did you even give her the chance to fight back?”

She added that she thinks about her sister every day.

“In my opinion, Marilyn died a hero,” Heneman wrote in her letter. “As your mother, she is now protecting every other person that has ever had contact with you.”

Her brothers, Mike and Mark Schmitt, also co-wrote a brief statement.

“Your entire future will be spent looking through bars,” the brothers wrote. “I will enjoy thinking of you there, if I ever think of you, which I won’t.”

Vega also read a brief statement to Levin, where she stated that she forgives him for what he did to her.

“Even though I have a reason to hate you, I don’t,” Vega told Levin. “God did not put me on this earth to point fingers at someone. He has forgiven me and that is why I forgive you.”

Vega previously told jurors that Levin showed up at her apartment and convinced her to drive him back to Early. She said Levin refused to let her leave and she was afraid that he was going to rape her. She said she eventually convinced him to drive back to Storm Lake, but on the way back Levin drove into a ditch. When a local farmer stopped to help, Vega began yelling that she was being kidnapped.

Judge Timothy Finn asked Levin if he would like to make a statement himself before sentencing.

“No, your honor,” Levin told the judge.

Finn told Levin that he agreed with the statements made by Schmitt’s family.

“This obviously was an absolutely horrible, vicious, mean, vindictive crime,” he said. “There’s no getting around that.”

While he also questioned the decision to release Levin early, in the end, Finn said Levin was responsible for his own actions.

“You’re clearly not insane,” Finn said to Levin. “You knew what you were doing. It was planned, and that’s just reprehensible. Likewise with the kidnapping of Jessica, that was also well-planned.”

Finn briefly spoke directly to Vega, commending her on her strength.

“I think it’s a credit to you and your strength that you were able to get out of this,” he said. “I hope as much as possible that you are able to put this incident behind you.”

Levin was then sentenced to life in prison without parole for killing Schmitt and 10 years for kidnapping Vega. Finn said the sentences will run at the same time, because “you’re never going to get out of prison.”

“You can criticize the prison system, you can criticize the police and courts,” Finn said. “but the one thing in Iowa that is still relatively certain is that when you get sentenced to life, it’s going to be life. It’s not reduced to a term and you won’t be let go for another reason.”

Levin will also have to register as a sex offender, since jurors ruled the kidnapping was sexually-motivated.

In addition to sentencing, Finn also overruled a motion for a new trial that was filed by Levin’s attorney, Charles Kenville. He argued that a second change of venue request, which was overruled a week before Levin’s trial, should have been granted.

Levin’s trial was moved to Webster County due to pretrial publicity.

He was transported to the Iowa Medical and Classification Center in Oakdale Friday afternoon, where it will be decided which prison he’s placed in.