Men resentenced in brutal 1994 murder

The men were convicted in 1994 for killing 32-year-old Rebecca Hauser

By Claire Powell | cpowell@weareiowa.com

Published 07/25 2016 10:39PM

Updated 07/25 2016 10:39PM

MARSHALLTOWN- Three out of the four teens convicted of first degree murder in 1994 were resentenced Monday afternoon in Marshall County court. 

On October 4, 1994, while driving along a rural Marshall County highway, Rebecca Hauser saw lights appear in her rear view mirror. Hauser was headed home to her husband, Dan, and their four children.

Inside the vehicle behind Hauser was four 15-year-olds; Jayson Speaks, Blake Privitt and twin brothers Derek and Burt Smith. The teens were running away from their Missouri homes to Canada in a Blazer. They put yellow postal warning lights on the top of the vehicle and the four attempted to pull over cars in hopes of robbing people for money to get to their destination. Hauser stopped on the side of the road, not knowing what the boys had planned. 

After questioning the boys authority, the 15-year-old's shot Hauser in the head. They proceeded to stab Hauser 32 times and also beat her with the butt of the .22 caliber gun they had used to shoot her. Hauser was left on the side of the road until her body was discovered. 

In 1996, Privitt took a guilty plea deal and spilled the gruesome details of Hauser's murder, subsequently receiving 75 years in prison. Speaks and both Smith twins were convicted of first degree murder and first degree robbery. They were sentenced to life in prison without parole.

That is until twenty-two years later.

The U.S. and Iowa Supreme Court has recently ruled sentencing juveniles to life without the chance of parole "unconstitutional, cruel and unfair punishment," which meant all three now-grown-men were up for resentencing. 

Monday afternoon, in a courtroom full of Hauser's family, including her four grown children, the family faced the murderers yet again. They were in the exact courtroom they had been in for the original sentencing. 

Nine Hauser family members took the witness stand describing life since Hauser's murder. 

Josh Hauser, Rebecca's oldest son who was ten at the time of her death, described his ongoing nightmares and battles with PTSD, which he developed from her murder. Hauser is now the same age as his mom when she was murdered. 

"I asked if I could go with her that night, now I'm fortunate I couldn't go," explained Josh. "The thought haunts me...I'll struggle forever."

Hauser's twin daughters, who were five-years-old at the time of the murder, also had an impact statement read, along with many sister-in-laws and a brother-in-law who remember the night of the murder well.

Carol Schnitzler, Hauser's mother, took the stand describing her fun-loving farm girl. 

"You people will never understand that this will never be over... Justice needs to be done for Becky too, right now," said Schnitzler. 

Don Schnitzler, Carol's husband and Hauser's father, described the brutal murder in detail. Hauser's sister-in-laws called the men "cold-blooded killers" and "animals." 

The final victim statement was Dan Hauser, Rebecca's husband. 

"Where are our rights? We're the victims here and we're not the murderers," said Hauser. Hauser voiced his opinion, strongly disagreeing with the Iowa and U.S. Supreme Court ruling saying it's giving well-knowing murderers another chance at life. 

Prior to the judge's resentencing, Speaks and the Smith twins were given the chance to talk. 

"I'm not a victim. I understand what I've done and I've been sorry every day of my life," said Jayson Speaks. 

"I feel shame. I betrayed my family and community...I was told not to write to apologize for what I had done... I feel utter shame," said Burt Smith, holding back tears. 

"I'm truly, deeply sorry and I live with it everyday. There's not one day I haven't thought of what I've done and not regret it...I know I'll never forgive myself," said Derek Smith, crying while looking at the Hauser's. 

The judge resentenced each man to life in prison with the possibility of parole. It is up to the Iowa Parole Board to decide if any of the men would be eligible in the future. 

In an interview with Local 5 News, Hauser's then-husband and son Josh said the system has failed their family and that the men's apologies are twenty-two years too late. 

"It hurts, it hurts bad. It's like reopening an old wound and it's not supposed to," said Dan Hauser. 

The Hauser's said they'll lobby to remove the supreme court justices who voted in favor of giving juveniles a second chance at life with possibility of parole. 

 

 

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