A Polk County jury has found Vernon Huser guilty of first degree murder.
The jury reached its decision Thursday morning after deliberating since Monday afternoon.
Huser was accused of hiring a hitman to kill his wife’s lover, Lance Morningstar.
Morningstar disappeared in 2004 and his body was found by hunters in Polk County in 2005.
Huser was convicted of murder in the case in 2010 but won a new trial on an appeal in 2011.
In a packed courtroom, the judge read the jury’s decision.
“We the jury find the defendant guilty of murder in the first degree, “ said Polk County Judge Glen Pille.
Huser turned to his attorney in disbelief as the judge pulled each juror to confirm their decision.
A decision the prosecution says is a long time coming.
“It`s obviously a long time between when Lance Morningstar was killed until the final resolution today. It`s been a horrible nine years for the Morningstar family so hopefully this brings some closure to them,” says Polk County Prosecuting Attorney Steve Foritano.
Foritano says it was a lot of work to recreate the events that happened nearly a decade ago.
“Fortunately there were a lot of records, a lot of phone records, a lot of phone contacts that we were able to use even though they were nine years ago to help refresh some memory and also to be able to piece together exactly what happened,” says Foritano.
However, the defense see’s things differently.
“We`re extremely disappointed with the verdict, my client is innocent,” says Vern Huser’s Defense Attorney Alfredo Parrish.
Parrish says he already has plans to file a motion for a new trial.
“We feel there are some substantial issues that came up during the trial such as hearsay evidence that should have not come into the trial. There were some issues like the state not producing information, there is also some information in regard to the state indicating evidence was destroyed, so we`re going to be looking at that,” says Parrish.
Huser’s sentencing has been scheduled for January 24th at 9:00 a.m.
A first degree murder conviction in Iowa carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison.