Request for new trial denied, Lansing man sentenced to 50 years in prison for May 2022 murder of his roommate

Sentencing was handed down in Allamakee County District Court in Waukon Monday, October 23 following the murder conviction of 66-year-old Andrew Karvel of Lansing, who had been found guilty of second degree murder in the May 9, 2022 strangulation death of his roommate, 83-year-old Daniel Lundy. Karvel had been found guilty of the crime by an Allamakee County jury in August of this year.

During the Monday, October 23 hearing, First Judicial District Court Judge Alan Heavens handed down a sentence of up to 50 years in prison, with a mandatory minimum time served of 35 years, which is the statutory mandatory sentence for a second-degree murder conviction under Iowa Code. As part of that sentencing requirement under Iowa Code, Karvel was also ordered to pay $150,000 in penalties to Lundy’s estate, with Judge Heavens acknowledging Karvel’s likely inability to pay that penalty but explaining that it is still a sentencing requirement under Iowa Code “regardless of ability to pay”.

Prior to the sentence being handed down, Judge Heavens acknowledged a written statement submitted by Karvel in regard to his charges and the legal proceedings. In being offered an opportunity for further comment, Karvel additionally stated during Monday’s hearing that he felt the therapy recommended in the presentence investigation conducted by the court prior to the sentencing hearing would only be necessary to address “stress, frustration and depression at the brick walls I’ve hit in this process and trying to deal with it,” a statement Judge Heavens said he would consider as “a supplement or disagreement” with parts of the presentence investigation.

A victim impact statement was also read by Susan McTaggart of the Crisis Intervention Service, located in Dubuque, on behalf of Lundy’s sister, who does not live in the area and could not be in attendance at the hearing but was allowed to attend through a virtual connection. In the statement, Lundy’s sister shared that she had “relied on my big brother since I was four years old,” listing a number of things he had taught her growing up. She further stated that “all of this has been taken away from me by his murder... He was my teacher, he was my guide, and I love him very much. I hope Andrew spends the rest of his life in prison.”

With no further remarks or objections to the sentencing, Judge Heavens then read the sentence aloud. He noted that Karvel will now be committed into the custody of the Director of the Iowa Department of Corrections, with credit for the time he has already served in connection with the case since his arrest in August of 2022. Karvel will now be transported by the Allamakee County Sheriff’s Department to the Iowa Medical Classification Center in Oakdale, where his prison term will be served, with no eligibility for parole until after the mandatory 35 years of the sentence has been served. He may file an appeal of the sentence, but must do so within 30 days of the sentencing or lose that right to appeal.

Given the opportunity to make any final comment, Karvel stated, “... because I said I understood what you were telling me, that does not mean I, in any way, agree with the charge, and I still strongly disagree with the charge.”

The sentencing followed a ruling made Wednesday, October 18 by First Judicial District Court Judge Alan Heavens on a motion filed by Karvel’s defense team for a new trial, or an acquittal, on the charges of second degree murder. That motion was filed October 2 by Karvel’s defense team from the State of Iowa Public Defender’s office in Dubuque stating that “the Court not enter judgment, and instead enter a judgment of acquittal,” according to court documents.

In filed court documents regarding the October 2 motion, Karvel’s defense counsel listed several reasons for filing the motion, including that “the Court erred in allowing the State to introduce inflammatory evidence regarding the Defendant’s prior conviction for assault”, an Alford plea made by Karvel in 2019. Also listed was the argument that the State failed to turn over “some exculpatory evidence”, namely a pacemaker report from the State Medical Examiner’s office and traffic camera footage that may have both factored into the timeline of events in Lundy’s death. In the court documents the defense counsel also argues that the “jury’s verdict was contrary to the evidence in the case” and that the “State failed to prove Daniel Lundy died from strangulation”.

In more recent court documents filed regarding his October 18 ruling on the motion for a new trial or acquittal, Judge Heavens summarized that “Karvel’s prior assault of Lundy is admissible. The semi-alibi timeline was never going to be a successful defense. There was substantial evidence of every element of the crime. The verdict was supported by the weight of the evidence and was not influenced by the verdict form. Karvel’s motion for a new trial, and Karvel’s motion in arrest of judgment that is based entirely on the same arguments as the motion for a new trial, are both denied.”

In further explanation of those points, court documents stated, “... the assault was relevant to malice aforethought, Karvel’s Alford plea is clear proof that the assault occurred, and the risk of unfair prejudice associated with the jury hearing about a simple misdemeanor assault was minimal compared to the significant probative value,” and that “... the prior conviction played a minor role in the trial and was not a main point of emphasis in the State’s closing argument.” In regard to the argument of the pacemaker report and video camera evidence being instrumental in an alibi timeline, court documents explained, “... the timeline gives Karvel enough time to strangle Lundy before Karvel left for the store, or after he returned, or before and after. The timeline is a ‘semi-alibi’ instead of an alibi.”

Regarding the arguments that the jury’s verdict was contrary to the case and the State failed to prove Lundy died of strangulation, the ruling in the court documents explained, “The medical examiner testified, within a reasonable degree of medical certainty, that strangulation was the cause of death” and that “... the jury must have found that the medical examiner was a credible witness.” Giving further validity to the jury’s verdict, the court documents summarized, “The weight of credible evidence overwhelmingly supports the verdict that this jury reached.”