Thursday, June 18, 2009

Dump The Body Across The Line

State v. Serrato, no. 08-0859 (Iowa Ct. App. June 17, 2009).

Serrato was convicted of killing Miriam Carmona and nonconsensual termination of her pregnancy in 2006.

Everything centered around the Escorpion bar in Muscatine. Serrato's current girlfriend arrived at the bar and got into a fight with Carmona, who alleged that Serrato was the father of her pending bundle of joy.

Serrato was notified about the affray and headed to the bar to settle things with Carmona. A fight broke out in the parking lot between Carmona and Serrato and shortly after, they disappeared along with Serrato's truck.

Carmona's body was discovered in a ditch on the Rock Island side of the bridge the next morning. A plastic bag entwined in her hair bore DNA from herself and from Serrato.

At trial Serrato moved to dismiss, alleging that the state had not adequately demonstrated territorial jurisdiction.

The court determined that where the defendant's state of mind is an essential element of the prosecution, actions in Iowa that infer his state of mind are sufficient to confer jurisdiction.

Serrato also argued that even if he was subject to Iowa jurisdiction the state did not present sufficient evidence to prove that he had the specific intent to kill Carmona.

The court of appeals agreed, reversing and remanding the case for dismissal, finding no credible evidence to show that the homicide happened in Iowa. Of course, the court chose to ignore the testimony of a jailhouse informant of the damaging admissions Serrato made. It also chose to ignore how Serrato's brother Edgardo ditched the pickup truck in Chicago the next day and how it was not located until some months had passed.

One thing's for sure-this one's headed for the Supremes.


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