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Court upholds conviction in Iowa coach's death

•  National News     updated  2011/09/08 09:19


An appeals court has upheld the first-degree murder conviction of a mentally ill man who shot his former football coach in the school's weight room.

Mark Becker had argued that he was legally insane when he shot Aplington-Parkersburg High School Coach Ed Thomas in June 2009. A jury found Becker guilty and rejected his insanity defense.

Doctors testified at the trial that Becker is a paranoid schizophrenic but they disagreed over whether he knew right from wrong when he shot Thomas.

Becker's lawyers argued that jurors were given incorrect instructions about the legal definition of insanity.

The Iowa Court of Appeals on Thursday agreed one instruction was incorrect but said jurors were given another instruction that correctly defined insanity. Taken together, the court says jurors were properly instructed.

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