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United States v. Lasley

United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Cedar Rapids Division

February 19, 2015

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
GORDON LASLEY, JR., Defendant.

ORDER

LINDA R. READE, Chief District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

The matter before the court is Defendant Gordon Lasley, Jr.'s "Motion for Judgment of Acquittal, Conditional Motion for New Trial, and Request for Hearing" ("Motion") (docket no. 106).

II. RELEVANT PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On April 9, 2014, a grand jury returned a two-count Indictment (docket no. 2) charging Defendant with two counts of First Degree Murder within Indian Country in violation of 18 U.S.C. ยง 1111.

On December 8, 2014, a jury trial commenced on Counts 1 and 2 of the Indictment. On December 9, 2014, at the close of the government's evidence, Defendant moved for a judgment of acquittal pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 29, which the court denied. See December 9, 2014 Minute Entry (docket no. 90). On December 18, 2014, the jury returned guilty verdicts on the lesser included offense of second degree murder on Counts 1 and 2 of the Indictment. See Jury Verdicts (docket no. 103).

On December 29, 2014, Defendant filed the Motion. The Motion requests that the court grant a judgment of acquittal on Counts 1 and 2, and "conditionally and alternatively requests that the court grant him a new trial." Motion at 1. On January 2, 2015, the government filed a Resistance (docket no. 107). The Motion also requests a hearing. The court finds a hearing is unnecessary.

Finally, the time for Defendant to file a reply brief has run. See LCrR 47(a) ("Local Rule 7 governs motion procedure in criminal cases...."); LR 7(g) ("[T]he moving party may, within 7 days after a resistance to a motion is served, file a reply brief...."). Thus, the Motion is fully submitted and ready for decision.

III. RELEVANT TRIAL EVIDENCE [1]

Viewed in the light most favorable to the government, the trial evidence established that on February 5, 2014, Defendant killed his parents by striking them with a three-foot-long machete. Defendant first killed his father, Gordon Lasley, Sr., by striking him at least three times with the machete. Defendant then chased down and killed his mother, Kim Lasley, by stabbing her six times in the head, neck and chest.

Following the government's case in chief, Defendant presented expert testimony to support his defense that he was insane at the time of the crimes. Defendant offered the expert testimony of Dr. Arthur Konar and Dr. Dewey Ertz as to Defendant's mental state on the night of February 5, 2014. Dr. Konar testified that Defendant was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia on the night of February 5, 2014, which prevented Defendant from accurately interpreting reality. Dr. Ertz testified that Defendant was suffering from brief psychotic disorder and delusional disorder on the night of February 5, 2014, which impeded Defendant's ability to appreciate the wrongfulness of his actions. Specifically, Dr. Ertz testified that Defendant suffered from the delusion that Defendant's parents had put "bad medicine"-a sort of hex or voodoo-on him, resulting in sexually transmitted diseases and that the only way to rid himself of the bad medicine was to kill his parents.

The government presented rebuttal evidence as to Defendant's mental state, including the expert testimony of Dr. Chris Grote, who testified that Defendant did not suffer from paranoid schizophrenia, a brief psychotic disorder or delusions on the night of February 5, 2014. Dr. Grote diagnosed Defendant with cannabis dependency and provisional antisocial personality disorder, and testified that neither of these disorders prevented Defendant from knowing the difference between right and wrong. Finally, Dr. Grote testified that Defendant's belief that Defendant's parents gave him a sexually transmitted disease through bad medicine was not the result of a delusion, but rather could be attributed to Defendant's Native American cultural beliefs or possibly Defendant's marijuana intoxication on the night of February 5, 2014. The government also presented rebuttal evidence-consisting of several members of Defendant's Native American tribe who testified that they believed bad medicine could be put on someone like a hex or voodoo-showing that Defendant's belief in bad medicine was a shared cultural belief as opposed to a delusion.

IV. MOTION FOR JUDGMENT OF ACQUITTAL


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