from the Iowa District Court for Linn County, Fae E.
appeals from his conviction and sentence.
C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, and Brenda J. Gohr,
Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Genevieve Reinkoester,
Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.
Considered by Vogel, P.J., Vaitheswaran, J., and Scott, S.J.
Cusic was convicted of murder in the second degree for the
death of his mother, Anita Labkon. He was sentenced to an
indeterminate term of confinement not to exceed fifty years,
with a statutory minimum of 70% of his sentence, along with
restitution and costs. He now appeals. For the following
reasons, we affirm his conviction and sentence.
December 7, 2012, officers from the Cedar Rapids Police
Department responded to a call from Cusic in which he
admitted killing Labkon with a crowbar. Officers found Labkon
in her bedroom. A pill container was on her chest and a
sheathed dagger was underneath her pillow.
was arrested. On the drive to the police station, he was
sleepy and slow to respond to officers; his pupils also
failed to dilate properly. He told police his mother came at
him with the dagger and he grabbed the crowbar from the
garage to defend himself. A few days after his arrest, Cusic
spoke to a newspaper reporter. He told the reporter his
mother threatened him with a gun.
defense retained experts to assist with the case. The first
expert retained, Dr. Carroll Roland, was unable to reach a
conclusion as to Cusic's capacity at the time of the
incident and recommended retaining another expert. The
defense then retained Dr. Arthur Konar. Dr. Konar examined
Cusic and testified his opinion was Cusic suffered from
diminished capacity at the time of the incident. Dr. Konar
testified Cusic lacked the ability to form the specific
intent to kill his mother. Dr. Konar cited evidence of
Cusic's history of head trauma, seizure disorders, and
substance abuse to support his opinion.
rebuttal, the State called Dr. Daniel Tranel, an expert in
neuropsychology. The defense objected to his testimony on
several grounds, including that Dr. Tranel's testimony
came as a surprise. In fact, the State had originally
retained a different expert, Dr. Michael Taylor, who had
examined Cusic and prepared a report, which was provided to
the defense. However, Dr. Taylor was unable to testify due to
a family emergency. Dr. Tranel had not examined Cusic. Dr.
Tranel was allowed to testify; he opined Cusic did not suffer
from diminished capacity at the time of the incident.
was convicted and sentenced. He now appeals.