Homework: Iowa Supreme Court Case July 20, 2012

State of Iowa vs. Mark Daryl Becker

This is over the Iowa Court of Appeals

“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”.

A background is listed and is quoted below from Zager, Justice –

“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.
Becker was charged with the crime of murder in the first degree in
violation of sections 707.1 and 707.2(1) and (2) of the Iowa Code. Becker
provided notice that he would be relying on the defense of insanity to the
charge. 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. He was also ordered
to pay restitution for his attorney and expert witness fees. Becker has
appealed his conviction and the imposition of expert witness fees.
Becker claims the jury was improperly instructed on the insanity defense
and that the jury should have been instructed regarding the
consequences of a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity. He also
claims the restitution order for expert witness fees exceeded the statutory
limitations. We transferred the case to the court of appeals which
affirmed the conviction and restitution orders. Becker sought further
review, which we granted. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm the
district court.”

The reason for copying this length of text is so I can break it down and make smaller sections that make a little more sense.

June 24, 2009 – Mark Becker killed his old football coach Edward Thomas in a weight room.

He had claims of insanity which where not deemed to be true. So now this case is in the court of appeals to either approve of the insanity plea or not.


Some time on that morning, Becker pried open a gun cabinet at his parents home.

“He took a .22 caliber revolver and practiced shooting the gun at a birdhouse in his parents’ yard” – page 6

“Iowa courts first considered the proper instructions for an insanity defense in State v. Felter, 25 Iowa 67 (1868)” – page 12

“If the Defendant has failed to prove either of the elements by a preponderance of the evidence, then the Defendant is guilty” – page 15

“Paragraph three says a person is “sane” if he “had sufficient mental capacity” to do certain things, as opposed to the statute, which says a person is “insane” if he is “incapable” of doing those things. Iowa Code § 701.4. “Incapable” means “lacking capacity, ability, or qualification for the purpose or end in view.” Merriam–Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary 628 (11th ed. 2004). Thus, a person who is “incapable” of knowing or distinguishing would, by definition, “lack capacity” to know or distinguish” – page 18 –

I think this part above is important when it comes to what a judge will look at when the case is trying to get called insanity.

“See State v. Kehoe” – Interesting referencing that case, we “covered it” in the past!

We recognize that confinement following a not-guilty-by-reason-of insanity verdict is not “punishment.” – Page 38

“In State v. McMullin, 421 N.W.2d 517 (Iowa 1988), we addressed a defendant’s claim that placing “the portion of the insanity instruction that told the jury to consider the insanity defense before it considered defendant’s guilt or innocence of the crimes charged” violated procedural due process” – page 46

I thought this was interesting because it talks about part insanity rulings instead of just a full out acquittal of a case because they are fully insane.






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