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Christensen attorney appeals conviction

By Staff | Jan 29, 2017

An Estherville teen found guilty of second degree murder is appealing his conviction.

Defense attorney Leon Spies of Iowa City, who represents Lee Christensen, 19, filed the combined certificate Thursday, Jan. 19 (29 days after sentencing; with the deadline hitting at 30 days).

Christensen was sentenced Dec. 21 to 50 years in prison for the shooting death of 19-year-old Thomas Bortvit of Estherville. Christensen, who was 18 at the time of the shooting, is currently being held at the Anamosa State Penitentiary.

Spies filed the notice of appeal Jan. 16, and after payment of the appeal fee went through Jan. 18, the defendant ordered the transcript of the Emmet County district court proceedings through the combined certificate. The certificate is served on the court reporters and all parties.

Within 40 days of service of this combined certificate, the court reporter files the original transcript with all parties served. It is after this service that the Supreme Court of Iowa gives the parties (Spies and the State Attorney General’s Office)?notice of the briefing deadlines.

The attorneys will then file their written arguments for and against the change of conviction and/or sentence.

An Emmet County Jury found Christensen guilty of 2nd degree murder after a nearly two week trial. Thomas Bortvit, 19, was fatally shot on June 6th, 2015. Bortvit’s body was found the following day at a gravel pit south of Estherville.

Christensen was transferred from the Iowa Medical and Classification?Center at Oakdale to Anamosa State Penitentiary last week. Anamosa is a maximum-security facility located about 25 miles northeast of Cedar Rapids.

The prison is home to approximately 1,000 offenders total.