DES MOINES, Iowa -- Vernon Huser has been convicted twice of First Degree Murder for hiring a hitman to kill his wife's lover in 2004. Twice he's had those convictions thrown out on appeal while maintaining his innocence. On Thursday he finally admitted his guilt and then walked out of court a free man.
"It's not fair, I miss my uncle he should have seen his grand kids and my kids grow up," niece Sarah Ellsworth said.
Lance Morningstar was shot and killed in 2004. Louis Woolheater was convicted for First Degree Murder for the shooting. However the investigation revealed that Woolheater had been contacted by Vernon Huser, whose ex-wife had a romantic relationship with Morningstar, before the shooting.
"I persuaded Louis Woolheater to committing murder," Vernon Huser said. "I was provoked by the knowledge and angered by the knowledge of my wife’s infidelity and I thought Lance was my friend".
Huser was also convicted of First Degree Murder for Morningstar's death, but had that conviction overturned in 2010. He was then convicted again by a jury of First Degree Murder but in 2015 he had that conviction overturned as well. He has been free on bond awaiting a new trial since then.
On Thursday, Huser admitted his guilt in court rather than standing trial again. He pleaded guilty to Voluntary Manslaughter and Conspiracy to commit murder. The convictions carried a maximum possible sentence of 15 years in prison.
"I hope he has a slow painful death and I am very happy that he will go to his grave as a convicted and confessed murderer, " Laurie Morningstar said.
However a judge took into account Huser's age, his health and the five years he already served in prison and sentenced him to time serve, releasing him from custody.
Huser must pay $150,00 is restitution.