By Bob Steenson, firstname.lastname@example.org
A Charles City man convicted in November of first-degree murder in Jasper County District Court has had his sentencing postponed after filing several motions and changing attorneys.
Randy Linderman, age 53, who listed his address as Charles City, was convicted on Nov. 13 of having killed Jose Ramirez Berber in March 2017 in Berber’s rural home in Newton, by hitting him in the head and face and causing blunt force trauma.
Sentencing had originally been set for this week.
A conviction of first-degree murder in Iowa has a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole, so sentencing hearings for such cases usually have few surprises.
After being convicted, however, Linderman filed a four-page handwritten letter to Judge Richard Clogg, asking him to “review” the evidence presented during the trial to see that it could not have convicted Linderman.
A few days later he sent a seven-page handwritten letter to the judge, going point by point through the evidence presented at trial and arguing that it did not prove he was guilty.
Judge Clogg determined that the letters constituted a motion for a new trial, and set a hearing on the motion and sentencing for Dec. 31.
Motions for a new trial after a guilty verdict are frequently filed by the defendant, but rarely granted by the trial judge.
Days after the judge scheduled the hearing, Linderman sent him another eight-page handwritten letter, presenting what he claimed was evidence that several other people could have been the real killer.
That was followed by another letter listing “new evidence,” then another letter asking for a different attorney because his current attorney had not followed his instructions during the trial, then another letter again raising questions about evidence.
In all, Linderman sent the judge 11 separate letters totaling more than 52 handwritten pages, raising questions about evidence, how the trial was conducted, how his attorney performed during the trial, questioning why other people had not been considered suspects and raising other issues.
Before the trial, Linderman had sent the judge a letter saying he wanted a new attorney, then a few days later he sent another letter saying he had reconsidered and Jill Eimermann, an assistant state public defender from Des Moines, could remain his lawyer.
After the conviction, several of Linderman’s letters to the judge again questioned Eimermann’s performance and asked for a new attorney.
On Dec. 30, Christine Branstad, of Branstad and Olson Law Office in Des Moines, appeared in court as counsel for Linderman and made a motion to postpone the hearing, filing deadlines and sentencing so she would have time to review the record and prepare.
At that point, Eimermann moved to withdraw as counsel because Linderman had private representation, and Judge Clogg granted that motion.
Clogg has now set the hearing on all the motions and the sentencing for Monday, Feb. 11.