Nicholas Luerkens first-degree murder trial: Cedar Rapids man charged in former girlfriend’s stabbing death at Marion Hy-Vee — (The Gazette)

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The Gazette

Trish Mehaffey

Nov 5, 2015 at 9:00 am

CEDAR RAPIDS — The defense continues its case at 9 a.m. today in the Nicholas Luerkens first-degree murder trial in Linn County District Court.

Luerkens, 33, of Cedar Rapids, is accused of killing former girlfriend Lynnsey Donald, 29, in the parking lot of the Marion Hy-Vee on April 21. According to testimony Tuesday, Luerkens planned and started following Donald after she broke up with him and wouldn’t reconcile. Donald was stabbed 32 times in the neck, chest and stomach area and her back, according to the autopsy.

Luerkens’ parents testified Wednesday how their son changed after Donald broke up with him and he lost his job. He was depressed, and his parents said his behavior became worse after he started taking an antidepressant.

The defense claims Luerkens had diminished capacity at the time of the killing.


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Luerkens sentenced to life for stabbing ex-girlfriend in Hy-Vee parking lot — (KCRG-The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS | A Linn County Judge has sentenced 33-year-old Nicholas Luerkens to life in prison without the possibility of parole for fatally stabbing his ex-girlfriend Lynnsey Donald, 29, in the Marion Hy-Vee parking lot in April.

He’ll also have to pay $150,000 to Lynnsey Donald’s estate, plus victim advocate and court fees.

A jury convicted Luerkens of first-degree murder in November. Investigators said that Luerkens stabbed Donald at least 30 times in the attack, which took place in front of Donald’s 7-year-old son.

Turner told Luerkens in court, “You will never leave the confines of a penitentiary.”

Luerkens spoke about the incident for the first time in court Friday.

 “I just wanted to agree with everything that has been said and I just want them to know that, even though I haven’t expressed any guilt or remorse, that doesn’t mean I don’t feel it every single day along with them,” said Luerkens. “I want the court and anybody else to know what I am truly sorry for what happened.”

Steve Donald, Lynnsey Donald’s father, delivered a victim impact statement. He said of Luerkens, “I knew he was a poor excuse of a man.”

“I find my grief ripping at my soul. An emptiness that is deep and dark. I never thought I would be burying my baby girl,” Donald said. “Our family has nightmares of her struggling in her final moments.”

Testimony during the November trial showed Luerkens tried to contact Donald numerous times before the attack, and he even wrote “Kill Lynnsey” on a to-do list in his journal. Hy-Vee surveillance cameras captured the entire attack on video.

Luerkens’ defense never denied that he killed Donald. But his lawyers claimed he had overdosed on anti-depressants at the time, and that clouded his judgment. The judge tossed out the insanity option before jurors started deliberating, however. The defense asked the jury, at most, to find Luerkens guilty of a lesser charge because of diminished mental capacity.