A split decision by the Iowa Supreme Court upholds a key ruling in a Des Moines kidnapping and rape case. James Effler was arrested in October of 2005 for taking a two-year-old girl into a bathroom at the Des Moines Library and sexually abusing her.
Effler admitted to officers that he sexually assaulted the girl, but tried to get that admission thrown out, saying he was denied a lawyer. The district court ruled Effler’s confession could be used because he asked police for a lawyer, but said he wanted a lawyer "if he was going to jail."
Effler, who is 35, was convicted of first-degree kidnapping and sentenced to life imprison without the possibility of parole. The Iowa Court of Appeals reversed the district court decision and said Effler’s confession to police could not be used in court because he had requested a lawyer.
The Iowa Supreme Court reviewed the decision. Six of 7 justices heard the case, but they were split 3-to-3 over whether Effler’s statement meant that he wanted a lawyer during his questioning. Since the high court justices were split, the appeals court decision is thrown out and the district court judgment to use Effler’s statement stands.