Iowa’s Attorney General is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review an Iowa Supreme Court ruling that prevents prosecutors from using a videotape of a slain girl in the trial against the man accused of killing her. James Bentley is charged with second-degree sexual abuse against 10-year-old Jetseta Gage of Cedar Rapids.
Bentley’s brother Roger was found guilty of kidnaping and killing Gage and is serving a life sentence in prison. Assistant Attorney General, Mary Tabor, says they’re asking the U.S. court to review the ruling that the video would violate James Bentley’s Sixth Amendment right to confront witnesses against him.
Tabor says there’s was a change in the law in 2004 U.S. Supreme Court decisions that changed the type of tests applied to child protection center interview. She says there are about 600 child protection centers across the country, so the ruling could have widespread application. James Bentley has already been convicted in federal court on the child porn charges and sentence to 100 years in prison for taking pornographic pictures of Jetseta Gage.
Tabor says the state case is still in the preliminary stages and they are hoping the U.S. Supreme Court will agree to review the issue. Tabor says the next step would be to move ahead with the case. She says the justices will likely decide in February or March whether to hear the case. Tabor says getting a ruling to use the tape is important to convicting Bentley on the state charges.
Tabor says the videotape is the critical piece of evidence and she’s not certain if they’d be able to go forward without being able to use the tape as evidence. Tabor says prosecutors in Linn and Benton Counties have asked for a delay in the state trial until the Supreme Court decides if it will review the case.