Nicholas Luerkens Convicted
CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS2/FOX28) - A jury in Cedar Rapids has convicted Nicholas Luerkens of first-degree murder.
Luerkens stabbed his ex-girlfriend, Lynnsey Donald, to death in a Marion Hy-Vee parking lot in April.
The defense argued that Luerkens wasn't in his right mind and hadn't been acting like his normal self for a while. They said his family had noticed a change in Luerkens' personality at the time.
Luerkens pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity this summer, but the judge determined on Friday that there wasn't enough evidence to put forward an insanity plea.
The defense instead argued that Luerkens had diminished responsibility, something hard to prove in the state of Iowa.
Tom Viner, a defense attorney with no connection to the Luerkens case, said it comes down to more than just a "crazy" person, everything has to line up for that defense to work.
"If we have video, if we have writings, if we have reason to think that this person was acting normally, it's gonna be harder for us to make the conclusion that they couldn't tell right versus wrong," Viner said.
During closing arguments, Luerkens' defense team asked the jury to consider second-degree murder charges instead of first-degree because while Luerkens committed the crime, he did have a mental illness.
Luerkens will be held without bail until his sentencing, set for January 8, 2016.