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Waterloo man's murder conviction upheld

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

The Iowa Supreme Court has upheld the murder conviction of the Waterloo man who killed Kay Straw on May 2, 2012.

Kevin Deshay Ambrose, 36, was convicted in March 2013 of murder, two counts of attempted murder and being a felon in possession of a firearm. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the murder, 25 years in prison for each count of attempted murder and five years in prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Ambrose appealed the conviction, saying some of the jury instructions were incorrect and that the trial information concerning the attempted murder charges didn't describe a criminal offense.

The Iowa Supreme Court issued their ruling on Friday, disagreeing with Ambrose and affirming the district court ruling.


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Kevin Ambrose will spend the rest of his life in prison. The Waterloo man was convicted in the murder of Kay Straw, and attempted murders of her daughter Marlene Buss and Buss' ex-boyfriend Undray Reed.

Buss had filed a no-contact order against Ambrose May 2, 2012. When she returned to their home to get her belongings, Ambrose showed up. He tried to shoot Reed, then did shoot Buss three times, she survived. Straw was shot twice and died from her injuries.

It was an eventful day in court before the sentence was even handed down.

Kevin Ambrose sat calmly as his sentencing started in the Black Hawk County Courthouse Monday, but when the daughter of the woman he killed began to talk, things quickly changed.

"The fact that you took my nephew's innocence away by killing his grandmother in front of him," Tammy Barnes said.

Kevin Ambrose mumbled in response.

"You know what, I am talking, so you need to shut up," Barnes said.

"I ain't going to shut up," said Ambrose.

The judge and prosecutors asked Ambrose to be quiet, and he refused.

"Don't shut me up...That's right," Ambrose said.

As he stood to be ushered out of court, fighting erupted in the courtroom, followed by an outburst from Undray Reed—one of Ambrose's attempted murder victims.

"I was going to sit here and let that man take his time. But he's a ho. He didn't listen. He could've listened to her," Reed said.

One person was arrested after the brawl. As things settled down, Kay Straw's daughter and shooting victim Marlene Buss pleaded with prosecutors to continue the hearing.

"He needs to be here and hear what we have to say. We are her kids. We are the ones without a mom. He can hug his kids. He can hug his mom. He can tell his mom he loves her. We can't," Buss said.

A few minutes later, officers walked Ambrose back into court and the judge warned him to stay quiet. Kay Straw's children then gave victim impact statements, all talking directly to Ambrose.

"You made the wrong decision. I don't know if you have regrets of what you've done. I hope you do, and may God bless you because you're going to need all the help you can get," said Randy Barnes, Straw's son.

"It hurts to know that somebody just didn't care and wanted to try and get away and kill my mom. But I'm not a victim, I'm a survivor," Buss said.

"I pray to God you never have a peaceful night of sleep. I hope you see my mother's face every time you close your eyes and I hope she haunts you," said Tammy Barnes.

Ultimately, the judge agreed with prosecutors saying the seriousness of Ambrose's crimes justified more than the mandatory life in prison sentence. On top of that, Ambrose will serve two 25 year sentences for the attempted murder charges. He's also required to pay $150,000 in restitution to Kay Straw's estate.

Ambrose did talk in court Monday, offering condolences to Kay Straw's son, but saying he didn't care about the rest of the family.

Nikki Newbrough contributed to this report.

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