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WEST UNION — A non-jury trial is scheduled for Oct. 1 in Fayette County District Court regarding Jeff Allen Sawvel’s most recent petition for post conviction relief.

Sawvel is serving a sentence of life plus five years for his 1998 conviction by jury on first-degree murder and felon in control of a firearm counts. He is at the Anamosa State Penitentiary

The former Oelwein man has unsuccessfully appealed the conviction and has failed repeatedly in petitioning for post-conviction relief.

Sawvel claims in his petition that his post-conviction counsel was ineffective and “did not properly present, nor investigate the claims. The applicant is actually innocent and there is evidence not previously presented nor heard showing actual innocence” and he then alleges witnesses perjured themselves and evidence was planted against him.

Sawvel is being represented by Jeffrey M. Lipman of Des Moines, who was appointed by the court at state expense.

In June 2020, the court granted Sawvel’s motion for a private investigator at state expense.

“A private investigator would be the most economical and practical way to investigate Applicant’s case,” District Court Judge Richard D. Stochl ruled.

Sawvel was convicted by a jury from Delaware County on Tuesday, July 21, 1998, of shooting and killing Gehlen Quandt, 70, of rural Fayette, on Nov. 15, 1997.

According to Daily Register trial coverage, Sawvel was a passenger in a car that slid off a snow-covered road and overturned in a ditch near Quandt’s home. The group went to ask Quandt, who lived alone, for assistance. An argument broke out and Sawvel shot Quandt at least three times, according to testimony. Then, the group stole Quandt’s pickup and drove it into a ditch as well.

Tom Miller, who was an assistant state attorney general at the time, delivered prosecution’s closing argument. In discussing elements needed to convict for murder, Miller said that pointing a .357 magnum handgun at Quandt was “the most eloquent expression of malice aforethought our society knows,” according to Daily Register news coverage.

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