NEVADA, Iowa -- A Story County jury delivered its verdict Monday in the first-degree murder trial of Alexander Kozak, 23.
The jury found Kozak guilty of killing 20-year-old Andrea Farrington inside the Coral Ridge Mall last June. The jury deliberated for less than an hour and a half.
Cheryl Farrington was surrounded by family and friends who wore t-shirts that read, "Justice for Andrea."
"We are obviously happy with the decision the jury made and thank them for their service. nothing will bring Andrea back, but knowing that the man who took her life will be spending the rest of his life behind bars, brings some comfort," she said.
A first-degree murder conviction in Iowa carries a penalty of life in prison. An automatic appeal comes with the charge.
Kozak will be sentenced June 6 in Johnson County.
Monday Closing Statements
The state claims Kozak shot Farrington over a bruised ego after he became jealous that she was interested in someone else.
"This wasn't because of some mental effect or mental illness. He did it because he wanted to. He did it because he was jealous and he was mad. He wanted Andrea to pay the price for bruising his pride,” said Johnson County Attorney Janet Lyness.
Kozak's defense never disputed that he pulled the trigger, but argues the crime was not premeditated and that he snapped due to a mental condition. Even though Kozak didn't take the stand in his own defense, the prosecution is still using his words against him. When talking to investigators, he admitted to killing Farrington, said he knew it was wrong and he knew what he was doing. Now, that confession alone isn't enough for a conviction.
For a first-degree murder conviction, the state must prove the crime was premeditated. Kozak's defense is making a "diminished responsibility" claim. His attorney argued a mental condition prevented him from being in the right state of mind when he pulled the trigger.
"After you review all the evidence in this case to find his level of responsibility, and after you've heard all the evidence in this case, it’s not first-degree murder, it’s not second-degree murder. It was a crime of passion," said attorney Alfredo Parrish.
If found guilty of first-degree murder, Kozak would receive the mandatory sentence of life in prison.