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Chance at parole granted to former Charles City man who murdered cousin as a teen

DES MOINES – A Charles City man who murdered his 3-year-old cousin as a 14-year-old teen back in 2009 and was sent to prison with no chance at freedom has now been granted a shot at parole someday.

Edgar Concepcion Jr. was just 14-years-old in 2009 when he committed the crimes of felony A first degree murder and felony A first degree sexual abuse in the death of his cousin, 3-year-old Krystel Barnes. He was sentenced in 2010 to life in prison on both counts by a jury. He has been incarcerated ever since with no chance at parole.

This week, Concepcion Jr. was re-sentenced to life in prison with a chance at parole.

Concepcion Jr.’s new lease on life began on September 28, 2013, when his attorney, Michael Adams, filed a motion in Floyd County District Court for re-sentencing, and an appeal on the conviction had been filed in 2011.

According to the Appeals Court ruling, Concepcion Jr. appealed his convictions following a jury trial to murder in the first degree, sexual abuse in the first degree, sexual abuse in the second degree, and child endangerment, as well as his sentence to life without parole. On appeal, he asserted forty-seven claims, including constitutional challenges to various aspects of the proceeding, a sufficiency of the evidence challenge, and a claim his sentence to life without parole constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.

The appeals court concluded in a later ruling that the majority of Concepcion’s claims are either waived, not preserved, or without merit and upheld his convictions.

However, pursuant to a subsequent U.S. Supreme Court ruling on sentencing of minors, Concepcion’s sentence to life without parole must be vacated, the Appeals Court ruled.

“Consequently, we affirm his convictions but vacate his sentences to first degree murder, first degree sexual abuse, and second degree sexual abuse, and remand for a new sentencing hearing as to those three counts,” the ruling stated.  This led to the re-sentencing and the shot at parole, someday.

Edgar Concepcion Jr. moved to the United States from the Philippines in 2006 with his parents. He had intermediate English-speaking skills at the time of his 2009 crimes.

According to court documents made public, in 2009, the parents of Krystel Barnes, then a three-year-old child, entrusted Concepcion and his cousins to watch her while they were at work. Over a period of approximately three weeks, Concepcion repeatedly sexually abused Krystel. On July 10, 2009, Concepcion was again watching Krystel while her parents worked. Krystel informed Concepcion she had to vomit, so Concepcion took her to the bathroom where he sexually assaulted her. While Krystel was lying on the floor of the bathroom, Concepcion sat on her torso and pushed “hard” on her chest. Concepcion strangled Krystel until her “eyes rolled back in her head” and she was “weak.” Concepcion then carried Krystel upstairs and his sister called 911. At that point, Concepcion described Krystel as “her eyes are like closing and then her mouth’s like purple.” An ambulance arrived and transported Krystel to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Concepcion and his family went to the hospital where he as well as various family members were interviewed by police. No Miranda warnings were given to Concepcion nor was an official translator provided; however, Concepcion’s interview was recorded and he allegedly made incriminating statements.

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