The State of Iowa vs Mark Becker

Filed July 20, 2012

“Mark Becker appeals his conviction for first-degree murder claiming the district court erred in refusing to give his proposed instruction defining the elements of the insanity defense and that the district court erred when it refused to instruct the jury of the consequences of a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity. DECISION OF COURT OF APPEALS AND JUDGMENT OF DISTRICT COURT AFFIRMED”. -means that they upheld the guilty conviction of the district court

“On June 24, 2009, Mark Becker shot and killed Edward Thomas in a temporary high school weight room in Parkersburg, Iowa, in front of numerous high school students participating in summer workouts”. -good background on the case

“The jury rejected the insanity defense and found Becker guilty of first-degree murder. Following the guilty verdict, the district court sentenced Becker to life in prison without the possibility of parole and ordered him to pay restitution to the victim’s estate”. -good information on what happened in the district court case

was violent, withdrawn, spent time in psychiatric facilities following violent episodes

diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia on June 21 and shot Thomas 3 days later 6 times with a .22

“He reentered the weight room, approached Thomas, took out the gun, and shot Thomas six times in the head, chest and leg. He proceeded to kick and stomp on Thomas, yelling, “Fuck you, old man.” He then left the weight room screaming that he had killed Satan and telling people to go get his carcass. Thomas died from his injuries”.

“The State presented numerous witnesses who identified Becker as the shooter. The defense called numerous witnesses to testify to Becker’s history of mental problems and his behavior in the days leading up to the shooting. The defense then called two psychiatrists who offered expert testimony that at the time of the shootings Becker was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, and that, as a result, Becker did not know and understand the nature or consequences of his actions and was incapable of distinguishing right from wrong in relation to those actions. In rebuttal, the State called two of its own psychiatrists. They agreed Becker suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, but they testified that he nevertheless understood the nature and consequences of his action and knew right from wrong in relation to the acts he committed”. -different psych witnesses saying different things, 2 said he didn’t understand the consequences of his actions and the other 2 said he did… who is right? or is there even a right answer?

why he appealed- “Becker appealed his conviction, claiming the district court improperly instructed the jury when it submitted the Iowa State Bar Association’s jury instructions defining the elements of the insanity defense instead of the instruction Becker requested. He also claimed the district court violated his due process rights under the Iowa Constitution when it refused to instruct the jury as to the consequences of a not- guilty-by-reason-of-insanity verdict. Finally, Becker claims the restitution order, including the expert witness fees paid to Becker’s expert witnesses, exceeded the maximum amount allowed by the statute”.

conclusion/ruling- “we conclude that Becker has not made the case for a due process violation under article I, section 9 of the Iowa Constitution under either the Medina categorical framework or the individual totality of the circumstances test”. “The instructions given by the district court, when read as a whole, fairly and accurately advised the jury of the legal standard it was to apply to Becker’s insanity defense. Becker’s appeal on this ground is without merit. Also, due process under article I, section 9 of the Iowa Constitution does not require the district court inform the jury of the consequences of a not-guilty-by-reason-of-insanity verdict under the facts of this case. Becker’s conviction is affirmed”

judges votes- “All justices concur except Hecht, J., who dissents”.






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