A man found guilty of strangling a Hiawatha convenience store clerk to death has lost his attempt to get released from prison. Christopher Wheeler’s defense attorney argued Wheeler was too drunk to know what he was doing when he strangled Shelley Razor-Markwell to death. Wheeler, who was 21 at the time of the crime, was living with the 36-year-old woman.

Razor-Markwell was found dead in their Hiawatha apartment. She was a single mother of three children and a jury found Wheeler guilty of first degree murder, which carries a life prison sentence.

The Iowa Court of Appeals has rejected his claim that the district court judge erred when the judge “tersely” refused to dismiss the charges against Wheeler. Wheeler’s complaints about his lawyer must be laid out in a separate appeal, according to the court.