Jonathan Neunaber

Jonathan Neunaber

A northwest Iowa man may serve up to 50 years in prison for killing his mother.

Forty-six-year-old Jonathan Neunaber of Akron pleaded guilty to second degree murder and willful injury this afternoon. He spoke in court about his crime.

“I struck my mother more times than I wanted to,” Neunaber said. “But it took me many more times than I wanted to.”

Neunaber was originally charged with first degree murder for the beating death of his 80-year-old mother, Esther in June of 2014. Neunaber told the court the crime was his response to finding his father dead in the home they all shared.

“When dad died, I did not know what to do next,” Neunaber said. “I was not prepared to be the man of the house, to do household repairs, land leases, file taxes — things like that.”

An autopsy indicated Donald Neunaber died of natural causes. Jonathan Neunaber said he attempted suicide after he beat his mother.

“I took some pills with the idea we could all be buried together,” he said. “Obviously that did not work. I’m still here.”

Neunaber was brought into court in a wheelchair and he was wearing a large neck brace.

Authorities say the federal health care privacy law does not allow them to disclose how he was injured. The plea agreement calls for Neunaber to serve to up 50 years for second degree murder and 10 years for willful injury. The sentences would be served consecutively, however, and he might be eligible for parole in 35 years. Neunaber will stay in the Plymouth County Jail until he’s sent to state prison. His sentencing hearing will likely be held in about three weeks.

(Reporting by Woody Gottburg, KSCJ, Sioux City/ Media Pool photo/Sioux City Journal by Justin Wan)