Thursday, March 13, 2008

Be Careful What You Ask For

State v. Decker, no. 06-0478 (Iowa Feb. 8, 2008)

Decker attacked his former paramour McNeal with a hammer and a knife and was prosecuted for a variety of offenses including attempted murder. Decker gave a videotaped statement to police in which he was minimally responsive and affirmed he had nothing to tell police.

Decker asserted a defense of insanity and diminished capacity, and moved to suppress the videotaped interview, which was granted because of the detective's importuning Decker after he had invoked his right to counsel.

When the case came to trial Decker asserted his insanity defense which included evidence from medical professionals on his lack of competency. In rebuttal the State offered the testimony of the detective who had interviewed Decker, and offered the videotaped interview, saying that it was probative as to Decker's demeanor shortly after the incident. Other rebuttal witnesses testified as to Decker's demeanor in the time after the attack on McNeal.

The district court simply did not believe Decker's insanity defense, finding he had sufficient capacity to form specific intent.

The Supreme Court affirmed, finding that the videotape was probative of Decker's demeanor in a nontestimonial way, although the expressed promises of leniency and Miranda violations were impermissibly admitted.


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