APPEALS COURT: Murder Conviction Affirmed


The murder conviction of a man who was seventeen when he stabbed and killed a Newton man has been affirmed.

The Iowa Court of Appeals released its ruling Wednesday in the case of Tyler Oberhart. Oberhart was convicted in 2008 of first degree murder in the stabbing death of Jerry Pittman II. Officials say the murder was the result of a drug deal gone wrong.

Witnesses testified during Oberhart’s trial that he confronted Pittman about giving him grass clippings instead of marijuana in exchange for some Zanax pills and that’s when the stabbing occurred.

Two others were convicted of lesser charges in the case.

Oberhart has filed appeals to his conviction to the Iowa Supreme Court and the Iowa Court of Appeals before but they have been denied. In this latest appeal, Oberhart claims his attorneys were ineffective because they should have tried to suppress a video of his statement to investigators.

The court has affirmed Oberhart’s murder conviction, saying the attorneys made a “reasonable strategic decision” to rely on the videotaped statement instead of having Oberhart testify.

Oberhart was originally sentence to life in prison but because of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling barring life sentences for those who committed their crimes before the age of 18, his sentence was commuted to 60 years by Gov. Terry Branstad in 2012.

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