Petersen sentenced to life, plans to appeal - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Petersen sentenced to life, plans to appeal

Renee Petersen Renee Petersen
Thomas Petersen Thomas Petersen

The Greene man convicted of killing his wife and fleeing to South Dakota has been sentenced to life in prison exactly one year after the murder in Butler County.

Forty-year-old Thomas Petersen was found guilty of first degree murder back in April.

Petersen was convicted of first degree murder in the death of his wife Renee. The defense did not deny Petersen's involvement in the murder, but they say he was drunk at the time and he did not intend to cause her death.

Thomas Petersen took the stand in his own defense saying he has a history of alcohol abuse which has caused him to pass out and black out in the past. Petersen also admitted to taking two prescription medications. One of the medications was for high blood pressure and the other for pain relief. He was told by doctors not to mix the pain relief medication with alcohol.

Petersen also testified that he had planned on killing himself sometime in July of last year. He had taken steps to purchase a hand gun.

Petersen said he drank more than 18 beers while running errands on June 4, 2011. When he returned home he got into a verbal altercation with his step son Cody. When Thomas Petersen asked his wife Renee how she was going to discipline Cody, Petersen said that Renee threatened to cut off one of his body parts and also told him to pack up his stuff and leave the house.

Petersen testified that the verbal argument escalated into a fight where they were hitting one another. Petersen admitted to stabbing at Renee, but he doesn't remember many specific details. When Petersen came to and saw the bloody scene, he said that his first reaction was to get his two-year-old son Jacob to a safe place.

"I looked down on her and I see this terrible horrible scene. She's laying there and she's covered in blood. The only thing I can think is, where is Jake," said Petersen.

Petersen was eventually arrested in South Dakota. His son Jacob was found safe.

At the sentencing, Renee's mother read victim impact statements from her and Renee's brother. 


"I want the murderer to understand that we will never forget what he has done and his children will not forget and we will make sure they know his true nature as a lazy, good-for-nothing, slob that was always a burden on the family and how useless he was as a father."
Renee Petersen's mother Judy Case did not hold back in Butler County Court Monday.
She read a victim's impact statement at the sentencing hearing for the man she used to call her son-in-law.
She says her daughter suffered under the control of Thomas Petersen.
And when she tried to leave, he killed her.
"I now know what we should have all seen. Thomas is a dangerous and unpredictable person.  He is like a rabid animal that needs confining," said Case.
Petersen sat expressionless during the hearing.
His only words?
That he plans to appeal.
The couple's teenage son plans to stay in Greene.
His statement was read to the court.
"She was the most wonderful woman I have ever known. The defendant has taken her from me and he has also made it hard for me to see my brother and sister.  It has also made it impossible for him to see his kids again.  He will never see how wonderful they will turn out without him," wrote Cody Petersen.
Sentencing came one year to the day since the murders.
"It was justice for my daughter she didn't get to live her life. now his will be taken away one day at a time," said Case.
Petersen has 30 days to file an appeal.
His attorney says that should happen Tuesday.
The couple's two youngest children are staying in Iowa with Petersen's sister.
Case says family members are grateful to people in Greene and surrounding communities on how they've responded since the tragedy. 


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