Alton Man Re-Sentenced To Life In Prison

Orange City, Iowa — An Alton man has been re-sentenced to life in prison for a 1976 murder, but this time with the possibility of parole.
Sioux County Attorney Thomas G. Kunstle says that 55-year-old John Walter Mulder, originally of Alton, was re-sentenced on May 11, 2016 in Sioux County District Court for the 1976 Murder of Jean Homan.

Mulder was found guilty of Murder in the First Degree before a jury in 1979 and sentenced to mandatory life without parole on February 2, 1979. Mulder was convicted after accused of shooting and killing 55-year-old Jean Homan while she was in her Alton bedroom on April 23, 1976. Immediately before firing at Jean Homan, Mulder aimed at her husband, Carl Homan, but the rifle misfired, says Kunstle.

This re-sentencing arose after the United States Supreme Court held that juvenile offenders cannot be sentenced to mandatory life imprisonment without parole even for homicide offenses. Governor Branstad commuted Mulder’s sentence to life with parole after 60 years. In 2013, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that the Governor’s blanket commutation was not right because each case required an individualized sentencing hearing.

Since Mulder has had several disciplinary violations during his 37 years in prison, including escape attempts, the court decided to re-sentence him to life with the possibility of parole after 42 years before he will be eligible for parole or work release. Mulder has 30 days to appeal the sentence.

More information from the Sioux County Attorney’s Office:

In 2015 the law changed relating to the service of mandatory minimum sentences by juveniles convicted of murder, setting out three alternatives for the courts in these so-called juvenile murder re-sentencings. They are:

  • Life without the possibility of parole;
  • Life with the possibility of parole after setting a minimum term of confinement before parole eligibility;
  • Life with the possibility of parole.

Since 1979, Mulder has served 37 years in prison. The State requested a sentence under paragraph (ii) above – life with parole after 45 years. Mulder requested life with parole under paragraph (iii) above. The State cited the following DOC disciplinary violations as reasons for a stricter sentence:

  1. On 1/17/1980, Mulder possessed a bomb precursor. Mulder had received charcoal from another inmate, which was stolen from the Furniture shop, and that Mulder felt the inmate was going to utilize it to manufacture gun powder and make a bomb. Mulder was 18 years old.
  2. Between June 1981 and April 1982, Mulder was involved with multiple instances of collecting money and possessing and arranging for drugs to be purchased and introduced into the prison. Mulder was 20 years old.
  3. On 8/22/1989, Mulder had an argument with his at-the-time wife, and escaped from medium custody from a South Dakota Penitentiary. Mulder fled on foot, did not turn himself in, and was apprehended a short time later. Mulder received a 10 year suspended prison sentence from South Dakota for escape, and was no longer able to be supervised out-of-state. Mulder was 28 years old at the time.
  4. Mulder was part of a 1998 tunnel escape attempt which was ongoing for “six” or “seven months” where inmates tunneled just before the exterior prison wall, and inmates were “very close” to getting out. Staff found drills, masonry bits, electric extension cords, goggles, dust masks, gloves, coveralls, candles, pry bars, hammers, alcohol, plexiglass and steel shanks, spurious guard uniforms, and a 20 gauge shotgun made from galvanized water pipe and pipe fittings. Mulder stated he “knew about the shanks and gun” and Mulder’s personal property, marked with his inmate number, was located within the tunnel.
  5. Between 7/26/2013 and 8/20/2013, Mulder and another inmate were utilizing an off-limits room, avoiding surveillance cameras, for inappropriate consensual sexual misconduct. Mulder was also 52 years old at the time.
  6. Throughout Mulder’s incarceration he has been found with marijuana, un-prescribed prescription medication, tobacco, and alcohol.


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