A state advocate for crime victims says she’s seen a dramatic turnaround over the years in how men who kill their wives are treated — and punished — in Iowa courtrooms. Marti Anderson, director of the Crime Victim Assistance Division of the Iowa Attorney General’s office, says men were often given second-degree murder or other lesser convictions that did -not- carry a mandatory life sentence. Anderson says “In the past, I think there was an assumption…that these were murders of passion, that the men weren’t really dangerous to anybody else because they had killed in the heat of passion, they had cracked. Oftentimes people found fault with the victim.” Anderson says the perceptions have changed over the past 20 years. She says today’s juries are better-educated about domestic violence and there’s been a shift in how spouse-murderers are sentenced.Anderson says “Now, when a man kills his wife in Iowa, we generally see that they are convicted of first-degree murder and they receive a life sentence. I think that people no longer believe that men ‘crack’ or that they kill in the heat of passion.” Anderson says “We’ve gotten better at investigating and explaining the dynamics of domestic abuse and the power and control involved in that crime and the deliberateness with which these murders are committed.” She says her case is highlighted by this week’s scheduled release of James Klindt, a former Davenport chiropractor who was convicted for the notorious 1983 murder and chainsaw dismemberment of his wife. Klindt is being set free Saturday after serving 21 years of a 50-year sentence for second-degree murder. Today, Anderson says, Klindt would likely have gotten life.
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