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State v. Cusic

Court of Appeals of Iowa

April 5, 2017

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
EDWARD M. CUSIC, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Linn County, Fae E. Hoover-Grinde, Judge.

         Defendant appeals from his conviction and sentence. AFFIRMED.

          Mark C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, and Brenda J. Gohr, Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Genevieve Reinkoester, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Considered by Vogel, P.J., Vaitheswaran, J., and Scott, S.J. [*]

          SCOTT, SENIOR JUDGE.

         Edward 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.

         I. Background Facts

         On 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.

         Cusic 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.

         The 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.

          On 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.

         Cusic was convicted and sentenced. He now appeals.

         II. ...


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