ALLISON – Family members unleashed their scorn Monday on Thomas Petersen, calling him a coward, a useless slob and a braggart with no real accomplishments.
And for killing Judy Renee Petersen by inflicting 129 stab wounds — for that, they branded him “an absolute monster.”
Jurors in April only needed 30 minutes to convict Petersen of first-degree murder. Renee Petersen, 36, died June 4, 2011, in the couple’s home in Greene.
According to evidence presented at his trial, Thomas Petersen used three knives, bending each of the blades and breaking one during the attack.
Judge Christopher Foy followed Iowa law and sentenced Petersen to life in prison with no possibility of parole. He also ordered Petersen to pay $150,000 in restitution and nearly $28,400 to the Crime Victims Compensation Program.
Petersen must also reimburse the state for his defense attorneys’ fees and related costs, which totaled about $18,400.
Before passing sentence, however, Judge Foy allowed Renee Petersen’s family members an opportunity to speak. Judy Case, Renee Petersen’s mother, offered an victim’s impact statement and read another written by Edwin Case, Renee’s brother.
“My mind replays Renee’s last moments like a broken record,” Judy Case said.
Speaking directly to Petersen, Case asked how he lives with such an image. She later described Petersen as a “dangerous and unpredictable person” who was more “like a rabid animal.”
Prosecutor Doug Hammerand during the trial used evidence and testimony to paint a gruesome scene.
Blood spatters, for instance, suggested Renee Petersen was on the floor or her hands and knees as her husband flailed away. Blood also revealed the doomed woman at one point got out the home’s front door before Thomas Petersen pulled her back inside.
According to authorities, Petersen fled the scene, taking the couple’s 2-year-old son with him. Law enforcement officials cornered Petersen in South Dakota after a high-speed chase that injured two sheriffs.
Jurors saw video captured by a dashboard camera as Petersen threatened officers on a remote highway. He was ultimately subdued with a Taser and taken into custody.
Edwin Case in his statement Monday described Petersen as “a burden on the family” from the beginning and vowed to keep Petersen’s story alive in the family.
“We will make sure the children understand how brutally he killed their mother,” Edwin Case wrote.
Foy started Monday’s hearing by dismissing motions by defense attorney Susan Flander for a new trial and to arrest judgement.
As she did during the trial, Flander argued text messages sent and received by Renee Petersen should not have been allowed as evidence. Some of the messages jurors saw suggested Thomas Petersen was violent.
Foy stood by his rulings and the trial’s end result, saying there was no doubt in his mind Petersen committed first-degree murder.
“I think the record kind of speaks for itself,” he said.
Foy later added his impressions of Petersen.
“You do not conduct yourself like someone who is capable of murder,” the judge said.
“I do not think you are an evil person,” he added.
But Petersen’s actions June 4, 2011, certainly were, the judge said.
——— ©2012 Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier (Waterloo, Iowa)
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