Former Iowa City insurance agent again denied commutation of life sentence

Kern, 67, was convicted of first-degree murder

Trish Mehaffey
Published: June 10 2013 | 3:05 pm - Updated: 28 March 2014 | 4:25 pm in

A former Iowa City insurance agent convicted in the 1979 execution style killing of a West Branch man will remain in prison after his application for commutation was denied for the second time Monday.

Gov. Terry Branstad declined to commute the life sentence of Robert Kern, 67, convicted of first-degree murder, along with six other inmates.

Kern was convicted by a Cedar County jury for killing Ady Jensen, 39, at his parents' West Branch home.

A relative of Jensen's who didn't want to be identified said Monday she felt "relieved" and was "pleased the Governor denied" his application.

Kern also applied for commutation in 2002 but he was denied then Gov. Tom Vilsack.

The Iowa Board of Parole found that Kern hadn't accepted responsibility for his crime and showed no remorse, Vilsack cited when he denied his commutation in 2002.

Kern, during his 2002 commutation hearing, told the board he was a "passive player" in the plot to kill Jensen, which refuted the prosecutor's claim that he was the mastermind behind the murder-for-hire scheme.

According to evidence at trial, Kern conspired with his ex-wife Judy White and Jensen's wife Jeanne to split a $50,000 life insurance policy taken out on Ady Jensen by his wife. Kern sold the policy to Jeanne Jensen without Ady's knowledge.

Judy White was also convicted of first-degree murder and is serving a life sentence. Jeanne Jensen, who cooperated with the prosecution, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit a forcible felony and served less than five years of her sentence.

Andrew Ogelvie, an Illinois man who was accused of actually shooting Ady Jensen, was acquitted in a separate trial moved to Scott County.

Other inmates denied commutation:

-Leonard Gregory, 52, Jackson County crime in 1981, serving life for first-degree murder

-Bryan Jasa, 42, Woodbury County crime in 1996, serving 55 years for attempted murder, first-degree robbery and other charges

-Michael Lang, 60, Woodbury County crime in 1988, serving life for first-degree kidnapping

-Fortunato Lira, Jr., 35, Scott County crime in 1997, serving 65 years for first-degree robbery, voluntary manslaughter and other charges

-Ricardo McGlothin, 42, Davis County crime in 2002, serving 50 years for second-degree murder

-Paul Quigley, 30, Muscatine County crime in 2000, serving 25 years for second-degree sexual abuse

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