The Iowa Court of Appeals has upheld the life sentence of an eastern Iowa woman who was found guilty of first-degree murder as a teenager. Ruth Ann Veal was five weeks from her 15th birthday when police say she ran away from a juvenile home in Waterloo in June of 1993.
Officers chased Veal on foot and she fled into a Waterloo home where she hid until the owner, 66-year-old Catherine Haynes, returned home. Police say Veal then used a butcher knife to repeatedly stab Haynes, and also severely beat her until she eventually died.
Veal then used Haynes’ phone to call relatives and then spent two days driving to various locations in Waterloo, Cedar Rapids, and Iowa City making purchases by using cash, a checkbook, and credit cards stolen from Haynes’ purse.
Veal was eventually caught and a jury convicted her of first-degree murder. She was sentenced to life in prison. Veal appealed her case in 2008 based on a new U.S. Supreme Court ruling that people under the age of 18 at the time of their crime could not be executed. A lower court ruled that Iowa does not have the death penalty so that U.S. Supreme Court ruling does not apply to Veal’s case — and Veal’s appeal did not come within three years as required by law.
The Court of Appeals upheld the lower court ruling, adding that the U.S. Supreme Court had already ruled that those under age 16 could not be executed at the time Veal was convicted, and she could have raised the issue at that time and been within the time limit for filing an appeal.