The Iowa Court of Appeals has overturned the conviction of a man accused of abducting a toddler at the Des Moines Public Library. James Effler was accused of taking a two-year-old girl into a bathroom at the Des Moines Public Library in October of 2005 and sexually assaulting the child.
Effler was found guilty of first-degree kidnapping and sentenced to life in prison. Effler appealed the conviction saying his graphic confession of stripping the young girl and sexually assaulting her should be thrown out, as police refused his request for a lawyer prior to his confession. The prosecution argued it was a harmless error and there was enough evidence without the confession to prove Effler sexually assaulted the girl — a condition needed to prove first-degree kidnapping.
The Iowa Court of Appeals ruled that even though Effler was clearly intoxicated at the time, he did ask for an attorney and the district court should have suppressed statements Effler made to investigators. The court says the improperly admitted confession had a profound impact on the jury’s consideration of whether the girl was subjected to sexual abuse. The court reversed the conviction and ordered a new trial.