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Iowa man receives life in prison for killing his mom


This news story was published on September 21, 2012.
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Andy Hoffman, The Hawk Eye, Burlington, Iowa –

KEOKUK – A Keokuk man who claimed “bath salts” led him to kill his mother was sentenced to life in prison this week in Lee County District Court.

Adam J. Pitman, 24, will not be eligible for parole under the sentence handed down by District Judge Cynthia Danielson.

A seven-man, five-woman jury convicted Pitman of first-degree murder in the killing of Rosa Pitman, 46. She was strangled a year ago in her Keokuk home. The jury deliberated 45 minutes before returning its verdict.

At his sentencing, Pitman read a statement in which he told the court how much he loved his mother and wouldn’t have committed the crime if he hadn’t been under the influence of bath salts, an amphetamine-like drug, which may cause hallucinations or delusional acts.

He strangled his mother in the early morning hours of Aug. 30, 2011, at the family home. He was pulled over by police in Fort Madison a few hours later for not having taillights. During the traffic stop, he told to police he had killed his mother.

Pitman was taken by police to Fort Madison Community Hospital before being transferred to University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, where he was treated for problems related to drug use.

During the five-day trial, defense attorneys argued Pitman would not have harmed his mother if not for the unexpected high from bath salts.

However, prosecutors dismissed the argument, indicating Pitman understood what he was doing at the time of the killing. They said evidence proved Pitman clearly intended his actions and wasn’t delusional at the time of the killing.

During sentencing this week, Danielson ordered Pitman to pay $150,000 to his mother’s estate, $7,500 in victim compensation fees and $8,415 in court costs. Danielson said Pitman would not be required to pay $25,000 in attorney fees.

Pitman was represented at trial by public defenders D.J. Arbabha and Jonathan Stensvagg. Assistant Lee County attorneys Bruce McDonald and Artemio Santiago prosecuted the case.

At this week’s sentencing, Danielson also denied a request from defense attorneys to grant Pitman a new trial because the state failed to present enough evidence to prove he intended his actions. The attorneys also claimed the jury instructions were improper.

Defense attorneys filed an automatic appeal on Pitman’s behalf with the Iowa Supreme Court shortly after the sentencing. However, Danielson set no appeal bond for Pitman, ordering him to remain in custody.

Danielson also ordered Pitman to be transferred to the Iowa Medical and Classification Center in Oakdale for processing. He then will be placed in the appropriate state prison by corrections officials. Authorities said the only way Pitman may be released from prison is if the governor commutes his sentence. Court officials said that is unlikely to happen.

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