By RYAN J. FOLEY
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) – A 21-year-old Iowa man accused of killing his mother and abducting a woman after being released from prison last week underwent treatment as a teenager because he fantasized about raping women and almost acted upon his urges several times, according to a Wisconsin prosecutor.
Kirk Levin once told police that he had duct tape in his backpack because he was planning to use it to rape a girl, and was caught hiding in the basement of the home of another girl that he’d targeted to rape, Dane County prosecutor Corey Stephan said at a hearing in 2009, according to a transcript. A doctor who counseled Levin warned that he would likely try to act on his violent sexual fantasies if he ever went off of unspecified medications, Stephan added.
Stephan was asking a judge to send Levin to prison in a car theft case, citing Levin’s increasingly dangerous behavior, which included burglarizing homes, stealing cars and engaging in fantasies involving kidnapping and rape.
“Obviously, if you have somebody who is a potential sex offender saying that they are planning on looking for somebody to tie up and rape, breaking into houses, that is an extremely serious public safety issue,” Stephan told the judge.
Levin was back in a courtroom Tuesday, this time in Sac City, Iowa, for an initial appearance on charges alleging that he fatally stabbed his mother Thursday at her farmhouse in Early. Investigators say that hours later he abducted and attempted to sexually assault a 21-year-old female acquaintance, who was eventually able to escape after a car accident.
A judge set bond at $1 million after Sac County Attorney Ben Smith noted that Levin had been in prison or on parole since age 17 and was facing disturbing allegations. Levin did not enter a plea, and the supervisor of the public defender’s office appointed to represent him Tuesday declined comment.
Despite Levin’s past, Iowa Department of Corrections officials say they were powerless to keep him behind bars or put him under supervision because his prison term for a burglary ended Jan. 1. Levin had served 26 months of a 5-year prison term but that was enough to complete his sentence under an Iowa law that routinely cuts prison terms by more than half. A judge also gave Levin credit toward his Iowa term while he was incarcerated in Wisconsin for violating his parole on a car theft case.
“The sentence ended and we had to open up the door,” said Department of Corrections spokesman Fred Scaletta.
Levin left the Mount Pleasant prison Jan. 1 with his mother, Marilyn Schmitt, and returned to her farmhouse in Early, which is 100 miles northwest of Des Moines. Two days later, prosecutors say he repeatedly stabbed his mother. A motive is unclear. Then he went to the home of a woman he knew 15 miles away in Storm Lake, saying his car had broken down and he needed a ride.
After they drove to Schmitt’s house, investigators say Levin took the woman to a barn, tied her up with a rope, put her in a car trunk, and then took her out and put her in the back seat. While driving away, his car skidded on ice and went into a ditch. When a neighbor stopped to offer help, the woman got away unharmed and Levin fled. Deputies found him hiding in a barn on the property. Later, they found his dead mother while searching her home.
A complaint charging Levin with first-degree murder says he admitted “that he choked his mother and that he had to have killed her.”
During the 2009 car theft hearing, Stephan said Levin was also interested in using pills and herbs to put women to sleep and was seeking information about making a soundproof room “in order to facilitate a rape against somebody else.”
“He is somebody who is a danger to the public,” He said. “He admits to drugging a girl with Benadryl for the first time and then trying to drug her with alcohol a second time. And when asked, ‘What would you do if she drank it and it worked,” meaning it put her to sleep, ‘Would you have gone through with raping her,’ his answer was yes.”
In the 2009 case, prosecutors said Levin and two others fled from an Eau Claire, Wis., group home where they were living, stole a car and went on for joy ride past Madison. Police say they led officers on a high-speed chase during which the car drove over spike strips and was eventually engulfed in flames.
Even though Levin was a passenger, prosecutors pushed for a prison sentence because they called him a danger to the public. Judge Daniel Moeser sentenced Levin to 15 months in prison and 24 months supervision, telling Levin “you clearly, clearly need mental health help.”
“I think what the public needs more than anything is to have you on a period of supervision for quite awhile, as long as we can do it, so that someone is watching you, monitoring you and making sure you get the treatment you need, the evaluations you need and take the medicine you need,” Moeser said.
The judge said the sentence would give Levin a chance for treatment “before you do something really serious where you’d be locked up the rest of your life.”
Levin served his Wisconsin prison term and returned to live with his mother in Iowa in 2010. Within months, records show he was arrested for burglary after breaking into a man’s home in Early through a bedroom window. He also broke into a tractor trailer on the property and stole a credit card and other items that were inside.
Judge Gary McMinimee sentenced Levin to 5 years in prison and allowed him to be transported to Wisconsin to return to prison for violating his parole there. McMinimee ruled that his Iowa term could start running when he was incarcerated in Wisconsin, where he served until November 2011 before being returned to Iowa.
He served 14 more months before his sentence ended. Iowa law shaves prison sentences by an extra 1.2 days for every day that many inmates serve, which means a typical 5-year term lasts 2 years and 99 days, Scaletta said. Inmates earn the time off regardless of their circumstances – unless an administrative law judge specifically adds time back in a formal disciplinary process.
Associated Press writer Todd Richmond in Madison also contributed to this report.