Attorney’s Office

Lavelle McKinley Sentencing

On January 16, 2013, Lavelle McKinley, age 42, was arrested and charged with Murder in the First Degree in the beating and strangulation death of Cynthia Rouse whose body was found in her Des Moines apartment on January 14, 2013.  This case took much longer than normal to resolve because of a pre-trial ruling made by the district court that McKinley’s public defenders should not be representing him because the public defender’s office had represented the victim’s husband in a previous unrelated case and had also represented several witnesses in other unrelated cases.  An interlocutory appeal of that ruling was granted by the Iowa Supreme Court but it wasn’t until March 31, 2015 that the Supreme Court filed an opinion which essentially determined that McKinley’s attorneys did not have a conflict of interest and that they could continue to represent him. 

On February 15, 2016 pursuant to a plea agreement, McKinley pled guilty to Murder in the Second Degree and Sexual Abuse in the Second Degree with those sentences to be served consecutive to one another.  Murder in the Second Degree is a Class B felony which has a special sentence of fifty years in prison.  Murder in the Second Degree is a forcible felony which requires the defendant to be sentenced to prison and in addition he must serve 70% of this sentence before he would be eligible for parole.  Sexual Abuse in the Second Degree is a Class B felony which has a sentence of twenty-five years in prison.  Sexual Abuse in the Second Degree is a forcible felony which requires the defendant to be sentenced to prison and in addition he must serve 70% of this sentence before he would be eligible for parole. 

On March 9, 2016, Judge Robert Hanson, sentenced McKinley to fifty years in prison on the Murder in the Second Degree charge and to twenty-five years on the Sexual Abuse in the Second Degree charge.  Judge Hanson required that these sentences be served consecutively which means that McKinley will have to serve fifty-two and one half years of mandatory prison time before he will be eligible for any type of parole.  McKinley will essentially spend the remainder of his life in prison for these violent and unprovoked crimes.  Assistant County Attorney Nan Horvat and Polk County Attorney John Sarcone prosecuted this case.

Contact Us

Polk County Attorney's Office
Polk County Justice Center
222 Fifth Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50309

Phone: (515) 286-3737
Fax: (515) 286-3428
Email: ctyatty@polkcountyiowa.gov