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Linderman gets life in prison for 2017 murder near Newton

By Bob Steenson,

The sentencing of a former Charles City man for first-degree murder has now taken place, almost nine months after he was convicted in Jasper County District Court.

Randy Linderman, age 54, was convicted on Nov. 13, 2018, of killing a man near Newton, by hitting him in the head and face and causing blunt force trauma.

He was sentenced last week to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

That is the mandatory sentence in Iowa for conviction of first-degree murder, so there was no surprise in the sentence. But the case has had several different developments between the conviction and the sentencing.

Linderman gets life in prison for 2017 murder near Newton
Randy Linderman

Jose Ramirez Berber was killed in March 2017 and found inside his home. Linderman was arrested after law enforcement officials said they connected him to the death. At his trial, the Jasper County jury deliberated for several hours before finding Linderman guilty.

After the guilty verdict, Linderman began sending hand-written letters to the judge in the case, District Court Judge Richard Clogg, asking him to review the evidence presented at trial and arguing that it did not prove he was guilty.

In all, Linderman sent the judge more than a dozen letters raising questions about evidence, how the trial was conducted, how his attorney performed during the trial, questioning why other people had not been considered suspects and raising other issues.

Clogg ruled that Linderman’s letters constituted a motion for a new trial, which is routinely filed by the defense after a guilty verdict but seldom granted.

There followed several months of hearings being set then continued where Linderman asked for a new attorney, changed his mind, then brought on another attorney, Christine Branstad of Des Moines.

At one point, the judge agreed to allow Branstad to submit affidavits under seal, rather than have them be part of the public record as would usually be the case. He also agreed to let the hearing for a new trial be closed to the public.

During this time, Linderman continued to send hand-written letters to the judge regarding the case. In July, Judge Clogg ruled that Linderman was not to send him letters while he was represented by counsel, but he continued to do so.

A hearing was held Aug. 6 to address all the post-trial motions and issue sentencing. Linderman’s attorney, Branstad, filed 20 exhibits for that hearing, including photos and cell phone evidence.

In his ruling at that hearing, Clogg wrote that he found no legal cause to not enter a judgment of conviction and proceed with sentencing.

In addition to the sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole, Clogg ordered Linderman to pay various fees, along with $1,946 restitution to Jasper County and $150,000 in victim restitution, giving the state 30 days to determine the person or persons entitled to receive the restitution.

Linderman was listed in court documents with a Charles City address, but he had reportedly resided in Jasper County for two years prior to the murder. He is a registered sex offender who was convicted of third-degree sexual abuse in 2001 in Floyd County.