Attorney for Co-defendant in Manchester Double Homicide Wants Portion of Interview Thrown Out
MANCHESTER, Iowa - An attorney for a young man charged in a double-homicide in Manchester wants part of a police interview kept out of his client's trial.
Brandon L. Ahlers, 20, is charged with two counts of aiding and abetting first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of Richard Sweet, 55, and Janet Sweet, 62, both of Manchester. He is accused of suggesting to his friend, Isaiah Sweet, different ways to kill the couple.
Ahler's attorney Aaron Hawbaker submitted a motion to suppress last month, claiming that during an interview with Division of Criminal Investigation agents, leniency was expressed or implied in return for Ahlers' statements. Delaware County Attorney John Bernau resisted the motion.
In a hearing that only lasted a few minutes Tuesday morning, the prosecution and the defense jointly submitted a transcript of the interview to District Court Judge Michael Shubatt, who will make a ruling at a later date. If the judge sides with the defense, statements Ahlers made during the interview after the point of expressed or implied leniency would not be allowed as evidence, Bernau said.
Ahlers' trial is currently set to begin on March 6 in Delaware County District Court.
Bernau said Sweet's attorney is also attempting to have a police interview kept out of his trial, which is also set for March 6, claiming that at age 17 years, 3 months, Sweet was not competent to waive his right to counsel and his Miranda rights.
The Sweets were found dead in their home May 13, both with gunshot wounds to the head. Relatives found the bodies when they came over for Mother's Day. According to a search warrant, Isaiah Sweet, 17, admitted to shooting his grandparents after contemplating beating his grandfather with a baseball bat.
According to an affidavit filed in the case, Sweet asked Ahlers how to load ammunition into an assault rifle, and Ahlers gave him advice about how to use the gun. During a phone conversation, Sweet allegedly told Ahlers, "I'll get a hold of you when it's done."
Ahlers said he talked to Sweet again on the phone shortly after that and Sweet told him he had killed his grandparents, according to the affidavit. Ahlers allegedly told Sweet to come over to his house and he could get rid of the rifle and another gun. Ahlers told investigators he negotiated the sale of the rifle in Greeley on May 12, according to court documents.
Ahlers later retrieved the rifle and took it to investigators on the advice of his uncle, according to an affidavit. Sweet allegedly identified the rifle as the gun he used to shoot his grandparents.
Both Ahlers and Sweet have pleaded not guilty and remain in jail under bond.