For the sixth time in his nearly eight years in office, Governor Tom Vilsack has commuted the sentence of someone serving a term of “life” in an Iowa prison. Michael Laverne Marit was convicted of first degree murder in connection with an incident in late 1982 in Scott County.
Marit and Mark Sauls were in the process of collecting a debt in a drug deal when Sauls stabbed the man who owed the money. Sauls was convicted of second degree murder, sentenced to 50 years in prison and he has already been parole. Marit, whose first degree murder conviction carried a mandatory life term in prison, will be eligible for parole in about seven years because of the governor’s action.
In a letter to the Iowa Board of Parole, Vilsack said Marit is not a threat to the public and has a strong support system in place once he’s released. Marit got married nine years ago — while still in prison. The governor says it’s clear when reviewing the crime that Marit did not stab the victim or intend for him to be killed. The governor also points to the “deep remorse” Marit has expressed to the victim’s family for his role in the crime.