Hear the confessions of the men charged in one of northern Iowa’s strangest murder cases

A judge sentenced a northeast Iowa man to life in prison without parole Friday for his role in the 2014 murder of a man whose body was found burning in a ditch. For the…

Hear the confessions of the men charged in one of northern Iowa's strangest murder cases

A judge sentenced a northeast Iowa man to life in prison without parole Friday for his role in the 2014 murder of a man whose body was found burning in a ditch.

For the past two years, Brendon Michael Peacock, 27, has been in a separate court where jurors heard the murder of 23-year-old Kevin Kaphar, who was attacked after he drove through a random group of men on the side of the road on Interstate 80 in Henry County.

First responders found Kaphar’s car only eight miles from his home burned beyond recognition.

Prosecutors allege that after he was beaten and stabbed, Kaphar fled into the ditch.

Peacock later told authorities he and the two others arrested for the crime saw Kaphar and then attacked him in the ditch. The other two, Joseph Hickman, 27, and Jacob Crane, 27, are scheduled to go on trial in August on murder and other charges.

After the sentencing, the victim’s father, Robert Kaphar, spoke of the pain his family had suffered. He said his son, who was an Army veteran and a software engineer, was a gentle and thoughtful person.

“You have not taught him right from wrong,” Kaphar said. “You did what you felt was morally right. You decided what justice is for you and not for us.”

Peacock’s attorney, Wayne Hart, had challenged the state’s use of an extremely violent jailhouse informant. The informant’s court testimony contradicted the state’s claim that Peacock admitted to the crime.

The informant testified that Peacock told him that he had hit Kaphar repeatedly and that he planned to burn Kaphar’s body to cover up the crime.

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