116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — A man accused of bludgeoning a woman with a board refused to waive his right to speedy trial Friday and asked a judge to let him be his own lawyer.
Arthur J. Flowers, 62, asked the judge to appoint a standby lawyer to assist him or replace his two lawyers with new ones who can be ready to represent him when his trial starts Tuesday.
Flowers, charged with first-degree murder, said he wanted different lawyers who had experience and didn’t have a large caseload so they could meet with him when he wanted, unlike the two public defenders he has now.
“I ain’t did nothing to nobody,” Flowers said during the hearing. “I’m fighting for the rest of my life.”
Flowers said he was “extremely dissatisfied” with his lawyers and made disparaging remarks about them.
Sixth Judicial District Judge Fae Hoover explained to Flowers that because he had demanded his right to a speedy trial, the last day his trial could start would be July 12 if it didn’t start Tuesday.
She said new attorneys likely would need more than a few days or weeks to review his case and prepare for trial.
Flowers, in a loud voice, said he wouldn’t waive a speedy trial because he knew people in Illinois who had been waiting nine years to get to trial and he didn’t want that.
Hoover told him the longest he would have to wait in jail would be a year, if he waived a speedy trial, but he refused again.
Flowers ultimately said he wanted to represent himself but he was open to the court appointing a standby lawyer to assist him during trial.
Hoover then attempted to ask him a series of questions to make sure he understood what he was charged with, the possible penalties and if he was familiar with the criminal rules of law, procedure and evidence.
Flowers said he understood he was charged with first-degree murder but was innocent.
Hoover became stern with him because he wouldn’t answer her question of whether he understood he could be sentenced to life in prison, if he is convicted.
Flowers, who made some disrespectful remarks to Hoover, finally said he understood but added that if he’s convicted he will appeal in federal court.
Hoover attempted to find out about Flowers’ educational background but Flowers first said he went to six different colleges but could only recall one — Joliet Junior College in Joliet, Ill., when she asked.
Hoover then asked if he had completed high school, and he said he learned everything by reading books — “like Abraham Lincoln.”
She explained that he would be held to the same standards as a lawyer during trial and she needed to make sure he understood.
Flowers said he had taken a criminal justice class in the past, and that he had defended himself three times on murder cases in 1978, 1984 and 1981.
He also said he had been arrested for murder seven times but didn’t say where those occurred. Earlier in the hearing, he said he had been arrested 90 times, then changed it to 400.
In Linn County, he has previous convictions for harassment and assault.
Assistant Linn County Attorney Jordan Schier, during the hearing, asked the judge to go forward with the trial on Tuesday.
Hoover said she would submit a written ruling probably over the weekend about whether she will allow Flowers to represent himself and if the trial will go forward Tuesday.
Flowers called 911 on April 2 and when officers arrived at his home in southeast Cedar Rapids after 6 p.m., he told them a woman, later identified as Emily Leonard, 22, of Cedar Rapids, had overdosed on heroin.
According to a criminal complaint, Flowers initially attempted to leave when officers arrived but then took them to a bathroom where they found Leonard with “obvious head injuries and blood spatter all over the bathroom.”
The woman’s clothing was in disarray, and police found a bloodied, 1-by-6-inch board, which investigators believed was the murder weapon based on the woman’s head injuries, the complaint stated.
Investigators said they found blood evidence in another area of the home where Leonard was likely killed and then her body moved.
During an interview with police, Flowers said he was alone with Leonard, a person he had known for many years, from Friday through Saturday, when he called 911, according to the complaint.
Flowers provided details about the incident that were not consistent with the crime scene, police said.
He also appeared to have blood on his hands and was wearing “what he described as” Leonard’s pants when officers arrived, the complaint stated.
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