Loren Huss Walks Away A Free Man
Huss: "It Feels Great"
POSTED: 4:53 pm CDT May 25, 2005
UPDATED: 9:10 pm CDT May 25, 2005
DES MOINES -- A Polk County civil jury ruled late Wednesday that the state of Iowa could no longer keep Loren Huss in custody. Less than an hour later, Huss walked out of the Polk County Jail a free man, and drove away with family members.
Huss was found not guilty by reason of insanity in the brutal 1986 killing of his girlfriend, Marilyn Sheets (pictured, left). Huss was accused of sexually abusing Huss, and then murdering her. He also disfigured the woman's body by, among other things, gouging out her eyes and biting off her nose.
After many years of legal maneuvering, a civil jury wound up with the case this month. Huss argued that he was mentally ill at the time of the murder, and believed that Sheets was the devil. He says he's recovered from his illness and has had no relapses in many years.
Prosecutors argued Huss should continue to be held in custody as a sexually violent predator. The civil jury ruled that the prosecution did not prove its case.
Dorothy Wallace was attacked by Huss in a parking lot prior to the Sheets murder. Wallace testified against Huss in this civil commitment trial, and was shocked by the jury's decision. "It's a sad verdict and every woman that ever comes in contact with him is in danger," Wallace said. "They turned a murderer and a rapist loose today. God help us all."
Prosecutor Douglas Hammerand says he's disappointed with the decision and says the state wouldn't have pursued the case had it not felt Huss is a risk. "That's why we filed charges," Hammerand said. "We believe there was evidence there to show he's a sexually violent predator. Yet that's why we let a jury decide and obviously the jury didn't believe he was."
Huss' attorneys and family declined comment. A spokeswoman for the family of Marilyn Sheets says they are shaken, in shock, and they believe the jury made a mistake. Dorothy Wallace agrees, saying "I never dreamed any jury would ever lower their self to let something like that loose."
Huss, dressed in a suit and tie, walked out of the Polk County jail around 5:30 Wednesday evening, carrying clothes and a plastic bag with his belongings. For the first time in nearly 20 years, he was not in state custody. Asked by a reporter how it feels to be free, Huss said "It feels great."
- May 23, 2005: Jury Deliberations To Begin Tuesday In Huss Trial
- May 19, 2005: Psychiatrist Testifies Crime Was Driven By Mental Illness
- May 19, 2005: Alleged Assault Victim Takes Stand
- May 18, 2005: Huss' Former Psychiatrist Testifies Wednesday