One of Davenport’s most notorious killers will be released from prison Saturday, after serving 21 years for the murder and dismemberment of his wife. Years after conviction, James Klindt confessed to hitting his wife in the head with a cue ball, hacking up the body with a chainsaw and dumping the parts in the Mississippi River. Marti Anderson, director of the Crime Victim Assistance Division of the Iowa Attorney General’s office, says the Klindt case is an example of why sentencing laws were changed. Anderson says “When we see someone like Mr. Klindt get out, we have to consider the context within which he was convicted. It was a different time. It was a different understanding of domestic abuse. I don’t believe it would happen today — that he would be getting out of prison after serving as little time as he has served.” Klindt, then a Davenport chiropractor, was sentenced to 50 years in prison for second-degree murder. He maintained his innocence until a prison cell confession in 1992. Anderson says if Klindt were sentenced today, he wouldn’t be seeing parole until 2026.Klindt’s first trial in 1984 in Keokuk ended in a hung jury. He was convicted by a jury in Sioux City a few months later. Anderson says prosecutors didn’t have the benefit of D-N-A technology for evidence and other scientific and forensic advances. The Klindts had been in the process of divorcing. An audio tape made by Joyce Klindt was played during trial, apparently made the night before the killing, during which the Klindts were arguing and Mr. Klindt threatened to cut her into “little pieces.” Anderson says the case is still carries a message, especially with Klindt, now 56, being set free.Anderson says “This is a man who killed his wife, had two trials, was convicted of second degree murder in 1984, and then in 1992, after all of that time of proclaiming his innocence, finally confessed that he had done it. This is a man who was manipulating the system as much as he had probably manipulated his wife.” Anderson says if the case were tried today, it would more likely conclude with a life sentence and no chance of parole.
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