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Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — A judge ruled Monday that a man accused of beating to death a woman with a board must undergo a competency evaluation following a hearing last week where he accused his lawyers of incompetency and wouldn’t answer most of the judge’s questions.
In her ruling, 6th Judicial District Judge Fae Hoover said “there is a substantial question of Arthur Flowers’ competency to stand trial” based on his testimony during Friday’s hearing and earlier comments he made to a mental health professional.
Hoover suspended proceedings for Flowers, 62, whose first-degree murder trial was set to start Tuesday, and ordered him to have a psychiatric evaluation to determine if he has a mental disorder that would prevent him from understanding the charge and proceedings or assisting in his defense.
She ordered the mental evaluation should be set for July 29.
Flowers asked Hoover on Friday to represent himself at trial and appoint a standby lawyer to assist him. He said his current public defenders didn’t have experience with murder charges and their caseload was too large to devote time to his case.
Flowers, who contradicted himself at times during Hoover’s questioning, said he had represented himself three times before in murder trials and he understood the criminal justice system because he had been arrested numerous times.
“I’m telling you I got over 90 arrests but I got over 400 arrests I ain’t even been charged with being an international drug cartel member and it ain’t me,” Flowers said in court, according to Hoover’s ruling.
Hoover, in the ruling, said despite the multiple inquiries from the court on his level of formal education, Flowers would not answer how much education he had or at which colleges or schools he studied. He could recall only one. He then said he was self-taught by reading books.
Flowers read the trial information to the court but didn’t show that he understood the charge or has the ability to assist with his defense, Hoover noted in the ruling. Flowers hasn’t “knowingly, intentionally and voluntarily” waived his right to have a lawyer, as required by law, and his lawyers’ motion to withdraw from the case is denied, she stated.
Hoover also ordered that public defenders will continue to represent Flowers. If Flowers is found competent, his current public defenders may renew their motion if needed.
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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