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Case No. 18-0733

State of Iowa
v.
Fontae C. Buelow

The State seeks further review after the court of appeals reversed the defendant’s conviction for second-degree murder and remanded for a new trial because it found the district court abused its discretion when it excluded the victim’s mental health records as evidence at trial. The State contends the court of appeals erred when it applied a per se rule that evidence of a victim’s mental health should not be considered as character evidence. The State further contends the court of appeals erred when it determined that the temporal proximity of a victim’s previous suicide attempt plays no role in determining the admissibility of this evidence and that any error in excluding the victim’s records was not harmless.

County:
Dubuque

Applicant

State of Iowa

Resisters

Fontae C. Buelow

Attorneys for Applicant

Genevieve Reinkoester

Attorneys for Resisters

David N. Fautsch
Elisabeth A. Archer

Supreme Court

Oral Argument Schedule

15-15-5

Sep 16, 2020 9:00 AM

Briefs

Supreme Court Opinion

Opinion Number:
18-0733
Date Published:
Dec 11, 2020

Court of Appeals

Court of Appeals Opinion

Opinion Number:
18-0733
Date Published:
Dec 18, 2019
Summary

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Dubuque County, Monica L. Zrinyi Wittig, Judge.  REVERSED AND REMANDED.  Heard by Bower, C.J., and May and Greer, JJ.  Opinion by May, J.  (14 pages)

            Fontae Buelow appeals his conviction for second-degree murder.  At trial, Buelow claimed the decedent committed suicide.  He argues the district court erred by excluding evidence concerning the decedent’s mental health.  OPINION HOLDS: The district court erred by improperly excluding evidence supportive of Buelow’s suicide defense.  The error was not harmless.  So we must reverse and remand.

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