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MASON CITY | A North Iowa man found guilty of two counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences plus 25 years Tuesday.

As he walked out of the courtroom in handcuffs, Peter Veal, 31, Lake Mills, looked at his family, who told him, "love you."

The families of the victims were emotional during the sentencing at the Cerro Gordo County Courthouse. Veal, who was dressed in a striped jail uniform, sat quietly as the victim impact statements were read by family representatives.

“His violent act changed the world of my family and Caleb’s family,” Melissa Kavars Hall, Mindy Kavars' sister, wrote.

Mindy Kavars died of a gunshot wound to the throat shortly after 2 a.m. Nov. 17 at a residence in the 1600 block of North Hampshire Avenue in Mason City, police said. Caleb Christensen died of multiple stab wounds.

Melissa claimed Veal has shown “no remorse” in the death of her sister.

“She was a great cook,” Melissa wrote. “She fed her murderer Thanksgiving dinner…”

A few hours later, Mindy was dead, Melissa said, killed by a man she just met.

Kavars' daughter, Alexandrea Kavars Rhine, said life without her mother doesn’t get any easier.

“No matter how long you sit in a cell, it will never bring back my mom,” Alexandrea wrote. The prison sentence would bring some justice to the families and the victims, she said.

Christensen’s mother, Diane Bjornsen, wrote about how much her son loved hockey, fishing and country music.

“Peter Veal, what did my son Caleb ever do to you?” she asked. 

Veal was also convicted of attempting to kill Ron Willis, who was also in the house that night. Willis testified Veal pointed a gun at his head and pulled the trigger, but the gun didn't fire.

The mandatory sentence in Iowa for first-degree murder is life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Cerro Gordo County Attorney Carlyle Dalen argued for consecutive sentences as there were three separate crimes, though life in prison is covered either way.

Veal was also ordered to pay $150,000 each to the families of Kavars and Christiansen. 

In closing arguments during the trial in July, public defender Steven Kloberdanz claimed Willis was the one who fatally shot Kavars and stabbed Christensen to death.

The prosecution called it “quite a story.” The defense claimed the comment constituted prosecutorial misconduct, which Judge Rustin Davenport denied.

Veal asked, by letter, for a new trial. In the letter dated Sept. 3, he said the story Kloberdanz told in court was false.

“I never told him anything like that,” Veal wrote.

Davenport denied his request for a new trial.

“The verdicts are not a miscarriage of justice,” Davenport said.

Veal's trial, which was moved to Webster County due to pretrial publicity, began July 10. He was convicted July 20. 


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