The Iowa Supreme Court has ruled a central Iowa man should get a new trial in a child endangerment case where a seven-month-old girl died. Twenty-two-year-old Matthew Elliott was convicted of child endangerment and willful injury in the death of Alexis Gilbert.
Gilbert was the daughter of one of the family members in the home where Elliott was staying in West Des Moines. Elliott allegedly slammed the girl’s head to the floor, causing the fatal injuries. Most family members who talked to police did not mention Elliott was staying at the home because he was a fugitive from a Des Moines halfway house where he was serving a sentence on other crimes.
An 8-year-old boy who lived in the house told police about Elliott’s contact with Alexis, but was reluctant to testify during trial. Prosecutors instead questioned the detective who started focusing on Elliott as a suspect after interviewing the boy.
Elliott appealed his conviction saying the detective’s testimony should not have been allowed. The Iowa Court of Appeals ruled the detective’s testimony was hearsay, but said it did not prejudice the case.
The Iowa Supreme Court agreed the detective’s testimony was hearsay, but reversed the appeals court ruling that it did not harm Elliott’s case, and said Elliott should be given a new trial.
See the complete ruling here: Elliott ruling PDF