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Iowa woman again seeking new trial in hammer death

Published: Monday, Nov. 12, 2012 11:41 a.m. CST

MASON CITY (AP) — A woman convicted of first-degree murder for beating to death an elderly man with a hammer in 2001 is again seeking a new trial.

Bennie Mae Harrington, 53, is appealing a judge’s denial last month of her request for a new trial, the Mason City Globe Gazette reported. Her appeal has been filed with the Iowa Court of Appeals.

Harrington says in her latest appeal that the attorney who handled her previous appeal failed to raise issues with the performance of her trial attorney. She also says she should have been found incompetent to stand trial.

Court records show Harrington has a history of mental illness.

In October, District Court Judge DeDra Schroeder denied Harrington’s request for post-conviction relief, saying she waited too late to file the appeal.

Prosecutors in her trial said Harrington used a hammer to kill 81-year-old Robert Crawford, who paid her $50 a week for sex because she wanted money for cocaine.

Harrington has been denied four previous requests for new trials — twice by Cerro Gordo County District Court in 2004 and 2008, and twice by the Iowa Court of Appeals in 2004 and 2007.

Harrington is serving a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole. She is being held at the women’s penitentiary at Mitchellville.