In an emotional court hearing on Monday, Noah Crooks, a 17-year-old Osage IA boy convicted in 2013 of the second-degree murder of his mother Gretchen when Noah was 13, was sentenced to 50 years in prison. Trever Hook, one of Noah’s defense attorneys, told me that Noah’s sentence will be appealed to the Iowa State Supreme Court because it is unclear what the law says should be done in this case. The earliest Noah could be released, he said, is in five years.
Noah will start the sentence in adult prison as soon as he turns 18 this summer. Noah has also been ordered to pay $150,000 in restitution to his father. Under the court order, he will not be given probation, but good behavior and other factors may affect the length of the sentence. The judge says he sees no evidence Noah has been rehabilitated. He will not grant probation and needs time to see if the teen is remorseful.
This case is made more complicated because it appears that the family has washed its hands of the fate of the boy. Noah’s father William took the stand for his victim’s impact statement, saying he feels that if he would have stayed home that night, he wouldn’t be here today. He said his wife didn’t deserve to be shot 22 times while sitting on the couch doing homework after preparing Noah’s favorite meal, adding that Noah has never apologized. He said he blamed himself for years for what his son did and says now Noah needs to learn from the hurt he caused. When describing visiting his son at Eldora State Training School, where he’s been since his conviction, William said, “I love you Noah, but you never brought mom up.”
“You need to pay for taking your mother’s life, kid,” he said.
Noah’s uncle took the stand, saying he loves but can never forgive Noah for depriving him of more memories with his sister. He says he has visited Noah and hugged him because that’s what his sister would have wanted. Noah’s grandfather said in his letter that he believes the teen is a serial killer. His grandmother says she loves him very much but it’s clear he has always lacked empathy. She added that she wants Noah safe but also wants society safe from him. She’s not sure releasing him is the answer.
In his statement, Noah said he’s turned his life over to God and wants a relationship with his family again. While Noah says he is now religious, the state maintains he was never religious during his time at the facility. The state also says Noah wrote in a letter that he tried to revive his mother, but evidence shows he tried to rape her. They maintain a doctor says Noah is developing an antisocial personality disorder, though he has not been diagnosed. The state added that another doctor says Noah doesn’t have a mental illness at all but will remain a threat his entire life—even if he is a model inmate, adding that he will say what he needs to in order to get out.
The judge says he needs to take much into consideration in Noah’s case, adding that he’s happy the teen has found Christ and that it will help him. But he said there’s been a lack of response and empathy following the event.
“Noah, for one reason or another, you just don’t want to deal with what you’ve done,” he said.
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