116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
A Cedar Rapids man pleaded guilty to lesser charges in the 2014 strangulation death of his wife and was sentenced to 32 years in prison on Monday.
Shawn Crowley, 44, charged with first-degree murder, admitted to strangling his wife Chantele Crowley, 39, with his hands on June 30, 2014. Crowley pleaded to voluntary manslaughter, second-degree kidnapping, possession of a firearm by a felon and stalking last week in Linn County District Court.
Assistant Linn County Attorney Jason Besler said the couple had a history of breaking up and reuniting, and Crowley told investigators that Chantele led him to believe the relationship was going to continue, but that day, when he came home early from work they got into an argument about it.
Besler said Crowley took her from the living room, which was more visible to the outside, to a back bedroom to argue, which is how the kidnapping charge comes in. Crowley also had a knife on him. He didn't use it but he had it during the argument that turned physical.
According to evidence at the scene and Crowley's statements, Chantele picked up her phone from a charger during the verbal argument, which turned physical when Crowley tried to get it away from her, Besler said. The charging cord was near her body, as police reported, but Crowley strangled her with his hands, he said.
According to police, her family asked them to conduct a welfare check at the couple's mobile home later that day but Besler said her time of death was narrowed down to around noon that day, based on texts messages she sent and from what Crowley told investigators.
Besler said Chantele's parents, step-parents and her son, who lives in Washington, agreed to the plea agreement, as opposed to the risk of trial. Besler said the concern was the jury may have rejected the murder charge, and found it a crime of passion after hearing some details, which would be more a voluntary manslaughter. The manslaughter charge only carries a penalty of 10 years.
According to police, Crowley admitted to several witnesses that he killed his wife before turning himself in to police later that night.
Besler said Crowley later said he didn't initially intend to hurt her that day.
Petitions for protective orders filed by Chantele in Linn County District Court showed of a pattern of stalking, physical abuse and harassment by Crowley. She had asked the court for multiple protective orders since 2009, with the latest petition being filed in May 2014. Chantele had left Shawn in May and accused him of stalking her and her friends, and slashing her tires.
Besler said information from witnesses could only confirm one incident of physical abuse before this crime, but said Crowley emotionally and psychologically abused her over the years, they said.
In 2014, Chantele's death was the eighth homicide of the year.