KNOXVILLE — The sentence was no surprise: Michelle Boat will spend the rest of her natural-born life in prison.

Judge Patrick Greenwood handed Boat the mandatory sentence at a hearing Thursday, inside the courtroom where in May a jury found her guilty of the first-degree murder of an Ottumwa woman.

The victim was Tracy Mondabough who was in a romantic relationship with Boat's husband at the time. Boat and her husband had separated but weren't yet divorced.

Boat did not dispute that her actions led to the death of Mondabough on May 18, 2020, in the parking lot of a Pella apartment building. She testified that she was the one who stabbed Mondabough and left her for dead, after stalking her that day.

Boat's attorneys had attempted to argue that the killing of Mondabough was in the heat of passion, asking the jury to find her guilty of a lesser-included charge of voluntary manslaughter. If successful, it would have dropped a life sentence to a maximum of 10 years.

Prosecutors instead put on a concise case detailing forensic evidence tying Boat to the scene, and establishing a motive for the killing as one of scorn after her husband moved out abruptly, after 20 years of marriage, for another woman.

In a to-the-point rebuttal, prosecutor Jared Harmon parted from the jury during the May trial with simplicity: "Michelle Boat didn't act because of some sudden, irresistible provocation. She was the provocation."

Harmon, an assistant Marion County prosecutor, rebutted the defense's claim that the proper verdict was not first-degree murder, but rather a voluntary manslaughter. The latter is an unlawful killing not from a premeditated intent, but one in the heat of passion.

In addition to the life sentence, Greenwood ordered that Boat pay $150,000 to Mondabough's estate. There may be additional damages Boat will owe, such as paying for all or a portion of her attorney's fees. That issue will be debated later in court.

Boat declined to speak before the judge at sentencing, and there were no victim impact statements given.

"There is simply nothing the court can do or say here today that would lessen this tragedy," Greenwood said Thursday. "By your malicious and willful act, you destroyed one life, ruined your own and impacted many, many others."

Kyle Ocker is the editor of the Oskaloosa Herald and the Ottumwa Courier. He can be reached at kocker@oskyherald.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kyle_Ocker.

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Kyle Ocker is a Centerville native and award-winning multimedia journalist. Kyle is currently the president of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council and vice president of the Iowa Print Sports Writers Association.

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