Luerkens Gets Life Sentence

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- A man sentenced to life in prison twice for killing his former girlfriend now blames bad choices and mental illness for the crime.

Nicholas Luerkens stabbed former girlfriend Lynnsey Donald to death in a Hy-Vee Parking lot in Marion in 2015.

A jury convicted him and he was sentenced several years ago to life in prison without parole.

But an appeals court overturned that verdict and order Luerkens get a new trial.

But suddenly last month, Luerkens changed his plea to guilty of first degree murder and agreed to waive any new trial ordered by court.

At his second sentencing on Tuesday, following a guilty plea in May, he spoke to his family and the victim’s family.

“I am sincerely very sorry for what happened. I can’t take anything back. Unfortunately, I’ll have to live with this. This was a case of mental illness and my bad choices,” Luerkens said.

The appeals court ruled Luerkens deserved a new trial to raise his claims of insanity.

Linn County Attorney Jerry Vander Sanden says a second full murder trial would have cost county taxpayers about $20,000.