Alleged Day Care Killer Robert Dunn
Thanks to the News-press.com and Mary Wozniak (@wozisme) for the shout out for Crimcourts in their Robert Dunn article today. Yesterday, after Dunn’s attorney’s rested their case, they got in a dispute with him as he decided that he wanted to enter a guilty plea prior to closing arguments. His attorney’s adamantly disagreed with this strategy, as he would have nothing to gain: he would still be facing a death penalty phase of the trial, whereas there is always the possibility of the jury finding him guilty of a lesser charge, or even not guilty. He had nothing to lose at this point by letting the jury render a verdict as to the guilt phase of the trial.
After some deliberation with his client, Dunn’s attorney David Brener determined that he had sufficient doubt about whether or not his client remained competent to stand trial. It is the duty of an attorney to request a review of their client’s competency when such an issue arises, and Brener brought it to the court. Judge Margaret Steinbeck ordered an evaluation to be conducted. As I said in the paper, I don’t believe this is trickery on behalf of the Defense team. Nobody involved in the trial wants to spend the energy and effort exhausted so far to strike it and start over again. The attorneys have a duty to report such issues to the court and seek an expert evaluation to determine if the client is possible: otherwise the verdict would be for naught, anyway.
This evaluation does not go to the Defendant’s guilt or innocence. A competency evaluation is for the purposes of determining whether a defendant has the mental capacity to appreciate what is going on, and to participate meaningfully in his defense. Ms. Wozniak asked if it is unusual for such a motion to be filed at this stage of a trial. While it is rare that such a motion gets filed right before the case goes to the jury, it is not unusual for the issue to arise at any stage in a criminal proceeding. The attorneys and the judge are proceeding cautiously to preserve an appropriate record and maintain the validity of the proceedings. The experts will determine whether Mr. Dunn is sufficiently competent for his trial to proceed at this time. There have been previous indications of issues concerning Mr. Dunn’s mental health, as I have mentioned previously on Crimcourts, so this motion is not entirely out of the blue.
Also, keep in mind this is different from insanity evaluation. Doctors will try to determine if the defendant is presently able to stand trial, not whether he was insane at the time of the offense. Regardless of their finding, this won’t make his charges go away or let him loose. If he’s found incompetent, he will still face charges at a later time, once his competence is restored. #robertdunn
UPDATE: Just to demonstrate the problem with mental health issues, another Lee County client who was set to being trial this morning also had a competency evaluation ordered.
Dunn’s case is set for a review next week to see if the trial can proceed.
Posted in Cape Coral / Southwest Florida, Criminal Law, Florida, Robert Dunn, Uncategorized
Tagged bobbie noonan, cape coral, competence, day care, murder, robert dunn, trial
According to the News-Press, the Defense has rested. Dunn has indicated a desire to plead guilty, and is discussing it with his attorney. I doubt that he has much to gain by changing plea at this point: he might as well hear what the jury verdict is going to be. There’s always a chance, even if slim, that the jury returns a lesser verdict (or even a not guilty). #robertdunn
I haven’t been able to watch any of the trial itself since it started a couple days ago, but if you’re interested, WINK is blogging from the trial: http://t.co/UcpVOyQ4
Rob Spicker reports on Twitter (@RobSpickerWINK) that the jury has been sworn in the Dunn trial, and opening statements will be this afternoon. Crimcourts won’t be able to attend, but I will try to track down a story on it. #robertdunn
Jury selection is continuing in the Robert Dunn – Bobbie Noonan Day Care murder trial. The courthouse is closed today, but the judge and attorneys will be back at it on Tuesday. This means the jury selection has now been going on for a full month. Again, it makes sense to spend as much time as needed on the jury selection, so that it doesn’t have to be redone at a second trial. #daycarekilling
UPDATE: the News-Press has done at article on the jury seleciton, to date: http://t.co/XuyS6DYd I hear they are hoping to comclude jury selection this week, but that’s obviously very up in the air…
According to Wink’s Rob Spicker, the Dunn trial has moved toe the second part of the jury selection. That is, a panel of jurors who were not disqualified by previous knowledge from the media coverage are now being questioned to see who is actually on the jury. There are probably about 60 jurors on the panel now, which is a lot for a non-serious case, but still may not be enough to seat a death-qualified jury. #robertdunn
Alleged Day Care Killer Robert Dunn
I was able to stop by and peek in briefly on the jury selection today: it was remarkably like the first day of jury selection. Several dozen jurors were brought in this afternoon, and broken down into smaller groups for individual questioning. The publicity this case has received is making it difficult to find jurors who do not have any preconceptions about the facts of the case. Recall the Fred Cooper case that went to trial here a few years ago (The Gateway murders case). A jury was sworn and the trial took place, only to have to be retried when it came out that the jurors had let outside coverage influence their deliberations on the case. Legend also has it they ran up an incredible bar tab while they were sequestered, but I don’t have any documentation of that! The difficulty in finding a jury will extend the expected length of this trial… I suspect a month or more would not be out of the question, if they are able to empanel a jury.