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Appeals court unmoved by arguments of Eagle Grove child murderer

DES MOINES – An Eagle Grove woman has lost an appeal in her murder conviction involving a young child.

In 2011, Kara Crapser, now age 26, was charged with murder in the first degree and child endangerment resulting in death in the death of her boyfriend’s five-year-old daughter. On April 24, 2012, she pled guilty to the amended charge of murder in the second degree, in violation of Iowa Code section 707.3 (2011). She was sentenced to fifty years in prison with a requirement she serve 70% of her sentence before being eligible for parole. She did not file a direct appeal.

On August 7, 2014, Crapser filed an application for postconviction relief. Trial was held on March 4, 2016. Following trial, the district court denied her application. She then appealed that decision.

Crapser argued her trial counsel provided ineffective assistance of counsel by failing to file a motion in arrest of judgment because her guilty plea was not knowing or voluntary.

On de novo review, The Iowa Court of Appeal found counsel breached an essential duty by failing to file a motion in arrest of judgment. The court also agreed, however, no prejudice resulted. Crapser contended she would have subpoenaed her boyfriend if she had known she had the ability to do so and that he would have testified he kicked a door closed on M.V.’s head on the morning of her death, causing the fatal injury. That argument is unavailing; the boyfriend was already listed as a potential witness by both the State and Crapser.

Finally, in ruling against Crapser, the appeals court said “there was substantial evidence against her. School employees and others who had opportunity to observe the child were prepared to testify the child was abused by Crapser. Crapser’s boyfriend referred to her as the “disciplinarian” in the home and reported he disagreed with her disciplinary practices. He was prepared to testify M.V. did not have an injury when he left for work on the day of the child’s death. Another of the boyfriend’s children and Crapser’s brother’s girlfriend were prepared to testify about specific abusive disciplinary methods used by the defendant. Crapser confessed after being confronted by law enforcement with the implausibility of her initial story. Additionally, Crapser obtained a significant benefit by pleading guilty to second-degree murder instead of being convicted of first-degree murder. Her buyer’s remorse is insufficient to merit relief.”

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