One of two brothers convicted in grisly Marshall County murder granted work release
A Missouri man who, along with his twin brother and two accomplices, kidnapped a Union woman and brutally beat and murdered her on the side of a Marshall County road nearly three decades ago will be granted work release after a parole board hearing held Wednesday.
KCCI first reported that Burt Smith, who had been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for his role in killing Rebecca Hauser on Oct. 4, 1994 just outside of Liscomb, was granted work release, while Derek, who had also been sentenced to life without parole originally, was denied parole in a split decision. The other two accomplices, Blake Privitt and Jayson Speaks, were both granted parole in 2017 and 2020, respectively, with Privitt now living at a community-based correctional facility in Fairfield and Speaks serving in Cedar Rapids. Privitt is expected to be fully released in 2029.
According to previous reporting in the T-R, the Smiths, Speaks and Privitt — all of whom were 15 years old at the time — were runaways from northern Missouri who planned to rob people to fund a trip to Canada. They impersonated police officers and pulled Hauser, a wife and mother of four who was on her way home from shopping and a visit to the Meskwaki Casino, over before firing a shot into her vehicle and subsequently stabbing her 32 times.
When they were initially convicted of her murder in 1996, the Smith brothers and Speaks were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole (Privitt was sentenced to 75 years in prison for second degree murder and first degree robbery), but an Iowa Supreme Court ruling in 2013 made mandatory life sentences for juveniles illegal, meaning they would be eligible for parole from that point forward. Since then, multiple hearings have been held, and members of Hauser’s family have attended them to describe the impact the murder has had on them and share their opposition to any decision that would allow the killers to leave prison.
Ted Kamatchus, who was the Marshall County Sheriff at the time of the murder and now serves as the U.S. Marshal for the Southern District of Iowa, said the situation was one of the worst he has ever encountered in his lengthy career.
“Having seen the level of violence (and) having interviewed the offenders, I know that this was all premeditated. Therefore, it has never sat well with me that they had their life sentences reduced,” Kamatchus said. “(But) in my 46th year in law enforcement, I’ve grown to accept the fact that times change, and we’re currently in a period where individuals are being released.”
At presstime, attempts to reach the Hausers for comment on the decision had not been immediately successful.