Cedar Rapids, Iowa News, Sports, and Weather
ALLISON - Mark Becker was found guilty of first-degree murder today in the shooting death of Aplington-Parkersburg football coach Ed Thomas last summer. It was a unanimous verdict after 25 hours of deliberation over five days. Sentencing has been set for April 14th at 10:00 a.m. (Watch Verdict)
In a news conference after the verdict was read, the Thomas family said there "are no winners" in the case, and thanked the community for their support.
"Hopefully we can continue to have the impact and carry the legacy (Ed) left us," Aaron Thomas said. (Watch Thomas Family Statement)
Assistant Attorney General Scott Brown complimented the Thomas family and Susan Flander, Becker's attorney, and noted the trial was emotionally draining for all involved.
"We come into peoples' lives at a pretty low point," Brown said. "Whatever emotions we feel, they're multiplied by 10 for the families."
Brown also commented on prosecutors' concerns about a possible hung jury in the case. "Deadlocked juries are not unheard of," he said. "It's up to them how they want to proceed."
"I give this jury a lot of credit," he said in response to a question about the length of deliberations. "At the end of the day, when people look back on this case, it really gives a lot of integrity to the verdict itself." (Watch Prosecution Reaction)
In brief comments, Becker's mother, Joan, spoke about her son's transformation as he descended into mental illness, noting her son could have never killed Thomas "in his sane mind."
"The system failed (Mark) miserably," she said. (Watch Becker Family Statement)
Becker's attorney, Susan Flander, spoke about the difficulties of using the insanity defense.
"I think it's difficult because people want others to be responsible for their acts, and they think that when they are blaming something else, they're not accepting responsibility," Susan Flander, defense attorney. (Watch Defense Reaction)
WATCH: Judge Reads Verdict in Mark Becker Murder Trial:
WATCH: Thomas Family Statement
WATCH: Becker Prosecutors React to Verdict
WATCH: Becker Family Statement
WATCH: Defense Attorney Reacts to Verdict
Jurors sent a note to 2nd Judicial District Judge Stephen Carroll on Friday, asking him what to do after taking four votes and not agreeing on a verdict.
Carroll sent them a note Monday after they reconvened, and referred them to a jury instruction that informs them it's their duty to agree on a verdict.
"Do not to hesitate to reexamine your views and opinions if convinced it's wrong. But don't change your opinion as to the weight or effect of the evidence just because it is the opinion of the other jurors, or for the mere purpose of returning a verdict. Remember, you are the judges of the facts. Your sole duty is to find the truth and do justice."
Robert Rigg, Drake Law School associate professor, said long deliberations are common in cases dealing with murder and the insanity issue. He also said the number of votes taken is not unusual.
The jurors had no other questions Monday for the judge.
On Friday, the jurors also asked Carroll what would happen to Becker if he was found not guilty by reason of insanity.
The judge told them not to concern themselves with the consequences. That wasn't their job, he said, and they are to decide whether he is guilty of first-degree murder or a lesser charge or whether he is not guilty by reason of insanity.
Replay Reporter Trish Mehaffey's Tuesday Coverage: