Kirk Levin
Kirk Levin
May 16, 2013

The 21-year-old Early man accused of stabbing his mother to death in January will not be judged by a Sac County jury because of extensive pre-trial publicity of the crime, a judge ruled Wednesday.

Kirk Levin faces felony murder and kidnapping charges for allegedly strangling and stabbing to death his mother, Marilyn Schmitt, 45, in the upstairs bedroom of her rural Early house on Jan. 3, and for kidnapping a 21-year-old Storm Lake woman later that morning.

Levin was arrested after he lost control of the vehicle he drove in the alleged kidnapping on an icy gravel road and went into a ditch about 8 a.m. that day. His trial is set to begin at 9 a.m. June 3 in Fort Dodge.

It has been widely reported in newspapers and on TV that Levin admitted to the kidnapping and murder.

"Kirk Levin admits to law enforcement that he was the only one who could have killed the victim," Sac County Sheriff Ken McClure wrote in the criminal complaint against Levin, who "admitted that he choked his mother and that he had to have killed her."

But Levin's defense attorney, Charles Kenville, of Fort Dodge, argues in court documents that Levin asked for an attorney while he was being questioned by law-enforcement officers and wasn't given one.

Levin said he "might (want or need) myself a lawyer," according to Kenville, who said he transcribed the words from a recording that is difficult to understand because of the quality of the recording and because an officer was talking at the same time.

"The officers ignore the statement and the interview continues," Kenville wrote to a judge.

Sac County Attorney Ben Smith countered that the request for a lawyer must be "unambiguous and unequivocal," and that Levin's request wasn't.

It's unclear when a judge will rule on Kenville's request.

Levin's murder charge is punishable by up to life in prison.

He was released from an eastern Iowa prison on New Year's Day from a felony burglary conviction. His mother gave Levin a ride back to her Early house at 2242 Ira Ave., where he allegedly stabbed her to death between 1:30 and 5:45 a.m. on Jan. 3. Investigators found the woman face-down on the floor of her bedroom with a belt around her neck.

Levin allegedly drove to Storm Lake and asked an acquaintance there for a ride home. When they arrived, Levin allegedly coaxed the woman into a barn and bound her with rope.

The woman later told investigators that Levin put her in the car and drove off but went into a ditch a short time later. A passerby neighbor stopped to help and apparently spooked Levin, who fled to a nearby river and walked along it for more than a mile. He was found 40 minutes later shivering with no shoes next to an old farm building, investigators have said.

Levin, who is originally from Wisconsin, has a well-documented history of violent sexual fantasies, court records from Iowa and Wisconsin show, but has not been convicted of a sex crime.

He is held on $1 million bond at Sac County Jail in Sac City.