Woman found fit to stand trial for I-80 rest stop murder of truck driver

An Iowa jury deliberated for just 50 minutes before finding a woman guilty of first degree murder for shooting a truck driver to death at a rest stop last year.

On Thursday, August 30, a jury found Mariana Lesnic, 44, guilty of first degree murder in the death of 60 year old Copeland Trucking driver Ernest Kummer, according to reporting in the Gazette.

Kummer was killed on September 6, 2017, when he was shot four times at close range by Lesnic while he slept in his truck at a rest stop off of I-80 near Victor, Iowa.

Lesnic was later found by police behind the rest area with a gun in her purse.

Lesnic, a U.S. citizen originally from Moldova, represented herself during the trial. Lesnic claimed during her testimony that she had been hitchhiking with truck drivers and met Kummer, who she referred to as “the old man” during her travels.

During testimony described as “rambling”, “difficult to hear”, and delivered in “broken English”, Lesnic describes how she asked several drivers via text message for a ride to Washington state in early September 2017. She said that Kummer responded and picked her up in Nebraska his personal vehicle. Lesnic claimed that Kummer took her to his home and held her there for three days, threatening her with a gun and pressuring her to have a relationship with him. Lesnic said that that on September 5, Kummer took her in his semi truck to deliver a load to Chicago.

Lesnic told the jury that when they stopped at the Victor rest area, she attempted to escape but was prevented by Kummer. She said that after he pushed her back into the passenger seat of his truck and asked her to undress, she opened fire on Kummer.

Assistant Iowa Attorney General Douglas Hammerand pointed out to the jury that Lesnic had several opportunities to escape and that Kummer was found in a sleeping position inside the cab of the truck. Hammerand also says that Lesnic failed to mention the alleged threats made by Kummer during several interviews with police.

During cross examination, Lesnic admitted that she shot Kummer with intent to kill him.

Attorney Tim McMeen said that the jury’s 50 minute deliberation was the shortest in a murder trial that he could remember. The jury’s decision was unanimous.

Lesnic faces the possibility of life in prison without parole.