Parkersburg, Iowa – The Iowa Court of Appeals has upheld the conviction of the man convicted of killing Aplington-Parkersburg football coach Ed Thomas.
Mark Becker shot and killed Thomas in the high school weight room in front of several witnesses on June 24th of 2009. Becker’s lawyer used an insanity defense, but he was found guilty of murder. Becker appealed his conviction saying his lawyer was ineffective for failing to seek a change of venue and failing to present evidence of pre-trial publicity. The Court of Appeals ruled the lawyer’s decision to forgo a change of venue was sound trial strategy given the available information.
The ruling says pre-trial publicity was widespread, but many accounts favored the defense’s claim of insanity. The ruling also says the positive interactions between the families and the Thomas family’s plea for understanding could have also positively influenced jurors toward the defense.
Becker is now 33-years-old and is being held at the Corrections Department Oakdale facility.