Iowa appeals court overturns man’s conviction

WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa Court of Appeals has overturned the conviction of a Waterloo man, saying his trial judge should have allowed a mental competency evaluation before allowing the man to represent himself.

The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reports (http://bit.ly/13buv7h) that Gary Russell Burke was convicted of burglary and harassment after breaking into an apartment in 2009, saying he would kill the occupants because he believed they were building bombs.

A psychologist testified that Burke suffered from mental illness, but was competent to stand trial.

Burke insisted on representing himself at trial. His behavior during jury selection prompted one potential juror to ask if he would be serving in “a mental health court.” An attorney asked that the trial be postponed for a mental health evaluation, but the judge refused.

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Information from: Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, http://www.wcfcourier.com

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