Chad Welsh strangled a pregnant Angela Hennes in January 2007 and burned her body in a rural Davenport farm field, the Iowa Court of Appeals affirmed Wednesday.
Welsh, 35, was sentenced in May 2012 to serve life in an Iowa prison for the murder after he completes a federal sentence on unrelated child pornography charges.
Five years after the death, a Scott County jury found the former used car salesman from Burlington guilty of first-degree murder, abuse of a corpse and unlawful termination of a human pregnancy.
In 2011, he became a suspect in Hennes' death after he went to prison for pornography and a sample of the inmate's DNA was entered into a nationwide database. His DNA matched evidence in the farm field where Hennes' charred remains were found 10 days after she went missing.
In addition to life in prison, he was sentenced to 25 years for terminating the pregnancy.
He appealed the pregnancy conviction, claiming his attorney was ineffective for not trying to acquit on the basis there was insufficient evidence he “recklessly” ended a pregnancy.
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"Everything we did was to try to raise doubt or create issues with the state," Phil Ramirez, Welsh's public defender at his trial, said Wednesday.
Ramirez said he didn't serve as his attorney during his appeal process and referred further questions to the Des Moines public defender's office.
Nan Jennisch, Welsh's assistant appellate defender, could not be reached for comment.