The Iowa Supreme Court has ordered a new trial for Cedar Rapids man in a murder case. Kevin Harris admitted to a Cedar Rapids police detective that he witnessed the shooting of Joseph Harris by Miguel Jones on January 6th, of 2003. Harris also told the detective that he poured gasoline on the dead man’s body and car, and then set them on fire because he feared Jones would shoot him too.
Harris was charged with arson in the second degree, and obstruction of justice, but asked that his confession be suppressed from his trial because the detective violated his right to have an attorney present, and he was not allowed to call a family member.
The district court denied the motion, and Harris was found guilty on both counts. The Iowa Supreme Court ruled that Harris’s Fifth Amendment right to an attorney and his statutory right to contact a family member were violated, and required suppression of the statements made by Harris after he requested an attorney and requested permission to call his brother.
The high court says while there was certainly other evidence to support the verdict, the district court’s findings of fact relied heavily on Harris’s confession, and Harris should get a new trial.