Courier file photo

OTTUMWA — Jacob Heckethorn avoided a potential life sentence in the August 2018 death of William Shettlesworth, but still faces a potential 50-year sentence.

Heckethorn was charged with first-degree murder, a Class A felony. Under Iowa law, a Class A felony requires a life sentence upon conviction. Jurors concluded that Heckethorn did kill Shettlesworth and that it was murder, but settled on the lower charge of second-degree murder.

Second-degree murder is a Class B offense in Iowa. Class B felonies usually carry a 25-year maximum sentence. But Iowa law makes an exception for second-degree murder, imposing a prison sentence of up to 50 years. It is a lesser included offense, which juries may consider if they decide the crime did not meet the requirements for first-degree murder.

Heckethorn’s trial took three days, and his sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 21, 2019.

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