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Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — A Cedar Rapids teen accused of killing his parents nearly a year ago will not stand trial this month because the prosecution needs more time to get an expert opinion on whether the teen had diminished capacity at the time of the crime.
Sixth Judicial District Judge Ian Thornhill began the pretrial hearing Friday by saying he wasn’t inclined to delay the trial because he asked the prosecution and defense eight months ago to give him a realistic date and they chose Oct. 18. But he agreed to hear the prosecution’s argument.
Assistant Linn County Attorney Mike Harris said he didn’t receive a report from the defense’s expert until Sept. 7. The expert will testify that Ethan Alexander Orton, then 17, was suffering from diminished capacity on Oct. 14, 2021, when he fatally stabbed his parents, Casey Arthur Orton, 42, and Misty Scott-Slade, 41, in their home.
Harris said he had been in a two-week trial in September and didn’t have a chance to review the report, and hadn’t secured an expert or found out if the expert could testify this month.
Thornhill said Harris shouldn’t be surprised the defense is claiming diminished capacity as a defense. It filed the notice in January.
Harris said he didn’t know what the evaluation would determine, and didn’t know if the defense would rely on diminished capacity or insanity because the notice said both.
The defense took no position on continuing the trial.
Thornhill then spoke on how important the trial dates are because of the amount of criminal trials in Linn County. The district is also down seven court reporters, which also causes trial delays, he added.
“It’s frustrating for me and the district,” Thornhill said. “It’s not simple to move a trial.”
Thornhill granted the continuance, saying both sides deserve a fair trial, but he will not delay it again.
A new trial date will be set after both sides discuss potential trial dates.
Orton, now 18, is charged as an adult with two counts of first-degree murder. He was found competent — he understands the charges against him and is able to assist his lawyers with his defense at trial — in January.
Cedar Rapids police received a 911 call about 2:10 a.m. Oct. 14 regarding suspicious noises coming from the Orton house at 361 Carnaby Drive NE, according to a criminal complaint.
Officers said they found the teen soaked in blood outside the home and that Orton admitted to killing his parents, who were found inside the home. He stabbed both parents with a knife and used an ax to kill his mother who didn’t die from the stab wounds, he told investigators.
Orton said he killed them “to take charge of his life,” according to the complaint.
He remains in jail under a $2 million cash-only bail. First-degree murder carries a life sentence upon conviction without parole, but because he was a juvenile at the time of the crime, he would have the opportunity for parole if convicted.
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