×

Supreme Court denies Green appeal

Justices say he didn’t have right to counsel in interview

SAC CITY — A man convicted of the 2009 murder of his roommate in Sac City had his appeal denied by the Iowa Supreme Court.

John David Green, 57, formerly of Sac City, was convicted of second-degree murder in 2015. He is serving a 35-year prison sentence at Anamosa State Penitentiary.

Green killed his roommate, Mark Koster, 58, in June 2009 at the Sac City home where Koster lived and Green, a former coworker of his, had been staying.

Koster’s mummified remains were found buried in his basement in November 2012.

Green was charged with murder in March 2014.

Appealing his conviction, Green tried to argue that he had the right to an attorney during his interview with police in Florida, where he was living at the time of his arrest.

Previously, Sac County District Court had ruled that, since Green had not been arrested and was not charged in any criminal case at the time of his interview, he did not have the right to an attorney.

Police at the time were simply questioning Green about the case.

The Iowa Supreme Court agreed with the lower court’s ruling in its decision, released Friday.

“In applying the right to counsel under the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the (U.S.) Supreme Court has held that a criminal prosecution commences only after ‘the initiation of adversary judicial criminal proceedings — whether by way of formal charge, preliminary hearing, indictment information, or arraignment,'” the court said. “Under this standard, Green had no right to counsel. The interview occurred before any of these formal events.”

In that interview, Green admitted that he killed Koster, but said he did so in self-defense after Koster attacked him with a baseball bat.

At his 2015 trial, Green made the same admission when he took the stand in his own defense.

But under cross-examination by prosecutors, Green couldn’t answer why he took other actions, including dragging Koster’s body to the basement, wrapping it in two blankets, covering him with cat litter and other items — including a water heater — cleaning up the house, throwing away the cleaning rags in a garbage bin some distance away from the house, and getting rid of the weapon, a baseball bat Green said he “choked him out” with.

Additionally, the Supreme Court ruled that instructions given to jurors that they could infer malice aforethought from Green’s use of the baseball bat were correct.

“Malice aforethought is inferred simply from the use of the dangerous weapon,” the court ruled, “and the manner that Green used the bat in this case — to cause death to another — the inference of malice aforethought. The instructions on malice aforethought and a dangerous weapon accurately stated the law, and there was substantial evidence presented at trial to support them. We do not find them redundant.”

Newsletter

Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)