The Iowa Supreme Court has ruled a runaway’s confession of a crime to a social worker is admissable in court. Jesse Pearson was convicted of first-degree robbery and willful injury for robbing a mentally-disabled man in Waterloo, then beating him with a cast-iron frying pan.
Pearson, then 17, committed the crime after running away from the Bremwood Residential Treatment Center in Waverly. Pearson invoked his right to remain silent when police questioned him. He was returned to Bremwood and the next morning during a routine interview, confessed the crime to a social worker.
Pearson tried to have the confession thrown out, but the district and appeals courts ruled the confession was admissible because Pearson was not in custody when he confessed.
The Iowa Supreme Court upheld Pearson’s conviction. The high court said he voluntarily revealed the information in an interview that was not intended to seek information about the crime, so he had reason to believe his discussion would be protected.