Another New Trial for Ankeny Man Convicted of Murder Twice

Vernon Huser (WHO-HD)

DES MOINES, Iowa – The Iowa Supreme Court has thrown out the second murder conviction for an Ankeny man and remanded his case for a new trial.

Vernon Huser has been convicted twice in the murder of Lance Morningstar, but both convictions have now been vacated. Morningstar disappeared in 2004 and his body was found by hunters in 2005.

Prosecutors say Huser hired Louis Woolheater, who is serving a life sentence for the murder, to kill Morningstar due to an affair Huser’s ex-wife had with Morningstar while she and Huser were still married.

Huser was convicted of first degree murder in 2010, but was awarded a new trial on appeal in 2011. The result of the new trial was the same as the first though, with Huser being convicted of murder in 2013.

An appeal in 2015 to the Iowa Court of Appeals was unsuccessful, with the court upholding the conviction.

The Iowa Supreme Court reviewed the case and vacated the conviction, remanding it to district court for a new trial. The decision by the court said Huser should have been allowed to present testimony from a witness who claimed Woolheater had his own reason for killing Morningstar and “acted to save his own skin rather than at the direction or encouragement of Huser.”