Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

August 23, 2013

Court overturns two Neiderbach convictions

Steve Woodhouse
Journal-Express

Des Moines — The Iowa Supreme Court has confirmed several convictions against Polk County child abuse convict Jonas Neiderbach, but most of the court believes that there was insufficient evidence in two of the counts.

Neiderbach was found guilty of six counts of child endangerment and sentenced to 50 years in prison. His son was less than seven weeks old when the boy suffered 15 fractured ribs, a broken arm and a permanent brain injury over a three-week period. 

Neiderbach appealed his conviction on several grounds. The majority of the Supreme Court agreed to vacate the conviction of two counts of child abuse, related to broken ribs, due to lack of evidence. At trial, Neiderbach also sought to have an in-camera review of the child's mother, Jherica Richardson's, mental health. 

"We vacate the convictions on counts four and five because the evidence was insufficient to prove Jonas inflicted E.N.’s rib injuries. We reverse the order denying Jonas’s motion for an in camera review of Jherica’s mental health records. We remand the case to allow the district court to conduct that review pursuant to Iowa Code section 622.10(4)(a)(2) (Supp. 2011) to determine whether her records contain exculpatory information," Justice Waterman wrote. "We affirm on all other issues. If no exculpatory evidence is found, Jonas’s convictions on counts one, two, three, and six are affirmed, and the district court shall resentence Jonas. If exculpatory evidence is found, then the district court shall proceed as set forth in section 622.10(4)(a)(2)(c) and (d) to determine whether Jonas is entitled to a new trial."

All justices concurred, except for Chief Justice Cady, who concurs specially. Appel, Wiggins and Hecht concur specially, on separate issues. 

The 108-page decision can be read at http://www.iowacourts.gov/Supreme_Court/Recent_Opinions/20130823/11-1082.pdf