Iowa cop killer who had his death sentence commuted dies aged 84 after 65-year prison stretch 1

Iowa cop killer who had his death sentence commuted dies aged 84 after 65-year prison stretch

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Iowa cop killer who had his death sentence commuted dies aged 84 after 65 year stretch behind bars that saw him become state’s longest serving prisoner

  • Iowa’s longest-serving inmate, Warren John Nutter, died Wednesday at age 84 after battling chronic illness
  • He passed away in a hospice room at the Iowa State Penitentiary after being imprisoned for the last 62 years 
  • Nutter plead guilty to shooting and killing Independence police officer Harold Pearce in January 1956 when he was just 18 years old
  • He was sentenced to death on Feb. 10, 1956, making him the second-youngest Iowan scheduled to hang
  • Death penalty opponents raised national attention to his case and his sentence was commuted to life in prison in 1957
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A cop killer who had his death sentence commuted has died in prison after 56 years behind bars – making him the longest-serving prisoner in his home state of Iowa.   

Warren John Nutter, 84, spent his life in prison after he plead guilty to killing Independence police officer Harold Pearce in January 1956. 

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Nutter, who was only 18 when he shot the 52-year-old cop, was initially sentenced to death by hanging but his sentence was ultimately commuted to life in prison.

He was Iowa’s longest serving inmate, the state corrections department confirmed to the Des Moines Register, and was also the fifth longest-serving inmate in the US prison system. 

Warren John Nutter, 84, died in prison on Wednesday after battling chronic illness

Warren John Nutter, 84, died in prison on Wednesday after battling chronic illness

Nutter spent his life in prison after he shot an Iowa cop when he was just 18

Nutter spent his life in prison after he shot an Iowa cop when he was just 18

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Records indicate that Nutter shot Pearce during a questioning about a gas station robbery.

Nutter and four other teens were being interrogated at the local sheriff’s office when he reportedly asked to use the restroom, climbed out a window, grabbed a shotgun from a car and fired it at Pearce as he tried to stop the group from fleeing.

Authorities captured Nutter about three and a half miles away from the crime scene.  

He was sentenced to death on Feb. 10, 1956, making him the second-youngest Iowan scheduled to hang.

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Death penalty opponents raised national attention to his case, making him a household name in Iowa.

Governor Herschel Loveless commuted Nutter’s death sentence in 1957, saying: ‘The final judgment rests with a much higher authority than myself.’ 

Nutter (pictured) spent his life in prison after he plead guilty to killing Independence police officer Harold Pearce in January 1956.

Pictured: Officer Harold Pearce

Nutter (left) spent his life in prison after he plead guilty to killing Independence police officer Harold Pearce (right) in January 1956

He served 62 years in prison making him the longest-serving inmate in Iowa and the fifth-longest in the country. He died in a hospice room at Iowa State Penitentiary (pictured) where he had been housed due to chronic illness

He served 62 years in prison making him the longest-serving inmate in Iowa and the fifth-longest in the country. He died in a hospice room at Iowa State Penitentiary (pictured) where he had been housed due to chronic illness

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Nutter had grown up in a broken Illinois home and was sentenced to juvenile detention for theft and forgery when he was 14. He had been out on parole when he shot Pearce. 

He served 62 years in prison making him the longest-serving inmate in Iowa and the fifth-longest in the country. 

He died in a hospice room at Iowa State Penitentiary where he was being housed due to chronic illness.

The longest-serving inmate is believed to be Francis Clifford Smith, 94, who was sentenced for the July 1949 murder of a night watchman during a yacht club robbery in Connecticut.

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Smith has been serving a lifelong sentence for over 71 years since his incarceration in June 1950, Lad Bible reported.

He, like Nutter, had been sentenced to death but, just hours before his scheduled execution, his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment.

Smith was recently transferred from Osborn Correctional Institution to a nursing home where he will finish out the remainder of his sentence. 

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