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Judge allows Cedar Rapids attempted murder suspect's parents to hear depositions

But juvenile's parents not allowed in same room with witnesses

CEDAR RAPIDS — A judge ruled this week to allow parents of a 16-year-old boy, who is charged with attempted murder, to listen electronically to depositions, but they cannot be in the same room with witnesses during those proceedings.

Sixth Judicial District Judge Kevin McKeever in his ruling filed Tuesday said there is no Iowa law regarding allowing parents of a juvenile charged as an adult to be present during depositions but he is allowing it based on how the Iowa Supreme Court has ruled in the past. The court requires that juveniles should be treated differently from adults when they are charged and sentenced in adult court.

In addition to the attempted murder charge, Malachi Handley is charged with willful injury causing serious injury and intimidation with a dangerous weapon. He is accused of shooting a 14-year-old boy on March 11, as the boy was leaving the Maytag Laundromat, 220 16th St. NE, Cedar Rapids.

A criminal complaint states a security surveillance video and witnesses identified Handley as firing several shots at the boy, who had gunshot wounds to his back and right leg. Several people were inside the laundromat at the time but no others were injured, the complaint shows.

Testimony during a previous hearing shows witnesses also told police there was an ongoing conflict between the 14-year-old and Handley before the shooting.

Tom Viner, Handley’s lawyer, argued last week the teen’s parents should be permitted to sit in on depositions based on rules of criminal procedure and juvenile laws.

Assistant Linn County Attorney Rene Schulte argued the juvenile laws don’t apply in adult court and the rules of criminal procedure don’t require or make it a right that a defendant be at depositions. Schulte also made the judge aware that some of the witnesses in the case feared retaliation from the defendant and his parents, which could hinder the prosecution’s case.    

McKeever said a child’s parent should be “privy to what is being said during the depositions, so that the parent can provide support and assistance.” However, the prosecution should be able to have their witnesses testify at depositions without fear of intimidation. The parents can listen electronically to the depositions but not be in the same room with witnesses, he ruled.

l Comments: (319) 398-8318; trish.mehaffey@thegazette.com