The Iowa Supreme Court will review a lower court’s ruling that prohibited prosecutors from showing the victim’s videotaped comments in the trial of James Bentley. Bentley is accused of repeatedly molesting Jetseta Gage, the 10-year-old girl who was molested and killed by Bentley’s older brother, Roger, in the spring of 2005.
Assistant Iowa Attorney General Mary Tabor says the tape is important to the case. “I think it would be very hard to secure a conviction in this case without this evidence,” she says. Tabor says they hope to get the Supreme Court to see their side of the argument.
The state contends the statements Gage made to an employee of St. Luke’s Hospital should be allowed even though she won’t be able to testify because she was murdered, while the defense says the tape violates Bentley’s right to confront his accuser. Tabor says they hope the court sees the tape as evidence, not testimony.
“Our argument is that the videotaped evidence is not testimonial because from her perspective as a ten-year-old girl that she didn’t believe that she was giving testimony so much as just talking to a social worker at the hospital, you know, in an effort to get help and to be protected from the on-going abuse,” Tabor says. Bentley’s trial was to begin Monday in Osceola, but the case is on hold while the Supreme Court reviews the videotape issue.