UPDATES & ANALYSIS

7.20

Iowa Supreme Court Affirms Mark Becker’s Conviction

by Ryan Koopmans | July 20, 2012

By Ryan Koopmans

This morning, the Iowa Supreme Court has  issued an opinion affirming Mark Becker’s conviction for killing Aplington-Parkersburg football coach Ed Thomas.  With Justice Zager writing for six of the seven justices, the Court ruled that while the district court’s jury instructions relating to Becker’s insanity defense were “not a model of clarity,” they “accurately and fairly stated the applicable law.”  The Court also ruled that the Iowa Constitution does not require that the district court explain to the jury the consequences of a not-guilty-by-reason-of-insanity verdict.

Justice Hecht was the lone dissenting vote.  He would have reversed the conviction and remanded the case for a new trial because, in his view, the district court’s failure to instruct the jury on the consequences of a not-guilty-by-reason-of-insanity verdit “deprived Becker of due process because it, in effect, nullified his insanity defense.” 

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