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Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — A Cedar Rapids police investigator testified Thursday during a hearing that a man accused of bludgeoning a woman with a board on April 2, waived his Miranda rights during an interview with police and said the man understood those rights.
Investigator Martin Devore said Arthur J. Flowers, 62, of Cedar Rapids, charged with first-degree murder, was hard to follow at times during the interview but seemed to understand the questions. He also never asked for a lawyer nor said he wouldn’t answer questions.
Flowers is asking the court to toss out his April 2 interview with police because he wasn’t fully aware of his rights and the consequences of signing the waiver. His attorney also is asking to move Flowers’ trial out of Linn County because of pretrial publicity.
Sixth Judicial District Judge Fae Hoover said she expects to rule quickly on the requests.
Flowers’ trial is set for June 28 in Linn County District Court. He remains in jail under a $1.5 million cash or surety bail.
Flowers’ lawyers argued during the Thursday hearing that he was confused and may have had a blood sugar issue after being held in a secured room at the police department for three hours before Devore questioned him. The interview lasted two hours.
Devore testified that he asked Flowers if he knew where he was — something he usually asks of those being questioned — and Flowers initially said the courthouse but corrected himself and said the police station.
“That has happened before with others,” Devore stated.
Flowers’ insulin level was checked by Area Ambulance Service personnel before Flowers was placed in the interview room, Devore said. He was offered food during the time he was there — 6:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. — but didn’t request any.
Devore said police were obtaining information during the three hours Flowers was waiting.
Change of venue
In arguing for a change of venue, Flowers’ lawyers said there had been inflammatory and pervasive coverage of the case from some media that has created prejudice against their client and prevents him from selecting a fair and impartial jury.
Nekeidra Tucker, one of Flowers’ lawyers, said some media had reported other incidents that had happened to them at Flowers’ house, where Emily Leonard, 22, of Cedar Rapids, was found beaten to death in April.
She cited one news report where Cedar Rapids Mayor Tiffany O’Donnell talked about the house in southeast Cedar Rapids being a “nuisance” property, which Tucker considered prejudicial.
Assistant Linn County Attorney Jordan Schier said the majority of the news reports had been factual. Some comments were made on the articles on social media, but there’s no information to determine who made them or if the commenters live in Linn County and could be a prospective juror.
Schier pointed out that Chief Judge Lars Anderson recently denied a change of venue in another murder case, partly based on the defense’s argument that the comments on articles had created prejudice, because there’s no way to know who commented or where those people live.
Officers responded to a 911 call made by Flowers at 6:06 p.m. April 2, who reported a woman, later identified as Leonard, had overdosed on heroin at his house.
According to criminal complaint, Flowers initially attempted to leave when officers arrived but then took them to a bathroom where Leonard was found 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, who he has known for many years, from Friday through Saturday, when he called in the “heroin overdose,” 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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