Davis is paroled after serving 17 years for murder

Monday, March 18, 2013
Brian Davis

Brian Davis would be in prison for at least 35 years if he were convicted of second-degree murder under today's laws in Iowa.

However, Davis, 42, was released from prison March 13 after serving 17 years of a 50-year sentence because there weren't mandatory sentences in 1995.

Davis has been in prison since October 1995 when he was convicted for the strangulation death of Julie K. Baack, of Le Mars, his former roommate.

He pled guilty to strangling the 22 year-old woman in her Le Mars apartment in December 1992, moving her body several times and burying the body in the Loess Hills, near Onawa.

He reached a plea agreement and was sentenced to serve up to 50-years in prison two months before Baack's body was found.

Davis was originally scheduled to be released on parole in 2018, but in January, the Iowa Parole Board approved an early release.

Last week he was paroled to the Kansas Department of Corrections to live with relatives in Olathe, Kan., according to Fred Scaletta, Iowa Department of Corrections spokesman.

Conditions of Davis's parole require him to live with a relative, Scaletta said.

Other conditions of Davis' parole include:

* obeying all laws

* getting a job

* not having any contact with victims of the crime such as Baack's family

* being supervised by a Kansas Department of Corrections parole officer

* being prohibited from leaving the county where his family lives in Kansas unless he is given permission by his parole officer.

"His initial supervision will be intensive, which basically means he will be in very regular contact with the parole officer," Scaletta said.

As of right now, Davis would be on parole until the July 18, 2018 date originally set for him to be released from prison, the state department of corrections spokesman said.

"There is the possibility that, at some point, the [Iowa] Parole Board could release him before that," Scaletta said. "It's really not likely in this kind of case."

However, Scaletta emphasized he works for the Iowa Department of Corrections and was not speaking for the Iowa Parole Board.

In January, members of Baack's family were notified of a hearing for Davis at which the Iowa Parole Board would consider his release from state prison.

Two of Baack's sisters participated in the parole board hearing objecting to the parole and other family members sent letters opposing Davis' release from prison.

Family members also registered with the State of Iowa as victims of Davis' crime.

Scaletta said he told the victims the department of corrections would not take any risks.

He also said the public and victims have an expectation that someone is going to serve the number of years they are sentenced to serve.

"That's not the way the Iowa law with prison sentences works," Scaletta said.

There was not a mandatory amount of time someone would be in prison for second-degree murder when Davis was sentenced in 1995, said Scaletta.

"As soon as he walked in the door, that sentence was basically cut by more than half," he said.

Today, there are mandatory prison sentences, Scaletta said.

"The law says that for murder in the second-degree, they have to serve 70 percent of the prison sentence before they can be eligible for release," he said.

That means Davis would have served 35 years instead of the 17 years for Baack's death.

Current state law requiring mandatory sentences could not become retroactive to Davis' conviction, according to Scaletta.

Specific conditions of Davis' early release were set by the Iowa Board of Parole in January.

The department of corrections doesn't want a person convicted of a violent offense to reach a point where a prison door is opened and the person just walks out without being supervised, he said.

In that situation there wouldn't be supervision to monitor the person's adjustment to parole or to help with the adjustment, Scaletta said

If the adjustment isn't going well, the department of corrections also has a legal process to get the person who was paroled back into prison, he said.

"The bottom line is very few people are not going to walk out of our doors some day at some point," Scaletta said.

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