Attorneys for Henry Dinkins file motion to have trial date pushed back

Attorneys for Henry Earl Dinkins, the man accused of the kidnapping and shooting death of 10-year-old Breasia Terrell in July 2020, filed a motion Tuesday in Scott County District Court to have the trial pushed back to a later date.

The trial is currently scheduled for Oct. 24 in Linn County District Court.

Dinkins’s attorneys, Chad and Jennifer Frese, of Kaplan & Frese LLP, of Marshalltown, said in their motion that given the fact that they were appointed to the case April 4, and given the voluminous materials of evidence to sift through and the number of witnesses to be deposed, that the ends of justice would be promoted by a continuance.

The Freses stated in their motion that the case is “extraordinarily labor-intensive with many issues,” and that the trial, “is expected to take three weeks,” and that none of the parties would be prejudiced by a continuance.

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They said that Dinkins right to a fair trial and effective counsel would be denied if the continuance would be denied.

The Freses said in their motion that at the time the County Attorney’s Office filed the trial information for the case, there was filed minutes of testimony which contained two volumes of filings and several hundred pages of reports and statements and other documents.

Those minutes of testimony have been amended since the original trial information to include many additional witnesses and additional reports and findings. Without committing to an exact number, the motion states, the County Attorney’s Office has listed about 90 witnesses in support of the trial information.

According to the motion, the first discovery disclosure was received by the defense the first week of June, 2022. “That disclosure was voluminous.” 

“Law enforcement in this matter conducted an extensive investigation which included seizure of several dozen surveillance tapes from local businesses, traffic cameras and recorded interviews,” according to the motion. “A review of these items alone, even with the assistance of an investigator, have taken multiple hours.

“Nearly 20 search warrants were issued in this case,” according to the motion.“Given the extensive investigation in this case, that number is expected. However, reviewing each of those warrants, applications, and returns takes significant time. Some of these warrants include the extraction of electronic devices which, by definition, contain all the information ever accessed on the specific device and takes significant time and analysis.”

The motion states that depositions were conducted in late June and that the Freses were able to depose about 50 witnesses over three days. Additional depositions still need to be conducted.

Separately, according to the motion, the defense has “discovered volumes of information regarding the family of the victim of this crime which requires additional investigation.” The specifics of the information is confidential and re-dissemination is prohibited without court order, however, the information is believed to be “vital to Dinkins’s defense.”

According to the motion, on August 18, 2022 the Scott County Attorney, Michael Walton advised that two of the state’s witnesses will likely need to be re-deposed after Mr. Walton’s disclosure of information relevant to testimony given by these witnesses in depositions.

That evidence, the Freses state in their motion, “is not merely tangential or collateral, rather it is alleged eyewitness testimony and testimony regarding investigation into the victim’s family. This is central to the defense of Mr. Dinkins.”

The Freses state that the defense owes a witness list to the state and is working on compilation of one. At present, the working copy of the list is about 20 witnesses and will include many more. Additional information is needed and will be requested from the County Attorney’s Office to obtain addresses, occupations, and phone numbers of witnesses who have been identified in discovery but personal information has been redacted.

The Freses also have been consulting with expert witnesses on several issues, according to the motion. “Finding expert witnesses with availability in the relatively short window since the appointment of the undersigned has been challenging,” they said. “Many experts are booked and have been booked for some time due to back log of cases which remain from COVID.”

“While this case has been pending for some time, the fact remains that the undersigned have been on this case for five and one half months,” the Freses said in the motion.

In his response to the motion by Dinkins’s attorneys, Scott County Attorney Mike Walton said that by agreement of both parties the trial was scheduled for Oct. 17. That trial was rescheduled to Oct. 24 upon the court’s own motion.

The state, Walton said, “is prepared and ready to proceed to trial on the scheduled date.”

Walton said that Dinkins’s previous defense attorney did not request depositions of the state’s witnesses, the defense at that time did request and receive “a large volume of documents, video and other discovery material. These items were produced electronically to defense counsel and contained over a terabyte of material.”

Walton added that the Freses deposed 50 witnesses during the week of June 22. At that time the parties agreed to take additional depositions on Aug. 22. That date for depositions, Walton said, was cancelled at the request of the defense.

“The State has made it clear to the defense that it will make any suggested date for depositions work,” Walton said in his response. “The State has cooperated with all requests for discovery scheduling and will continue to do so.”

Walton said that Breasia’s mother “waited nine months before learning the fate of her missing daughter, then learning her daughter had been murdered. Since the arrest of the defendant, she has waited over one year for justice and resolution of this case.”

Walton cited Iowa’s Rules of Criminal Procedure stating that the date assigned for trial shall be considered firm. A motion for continuance shall not be granted except upon a showing of good and compelling cause.

Walton said “the delay proposed by the defense would significantly disrupt the orderly process of justice in this case and cause prejudice to the state.

“The delay will almost certainly cause the necessity for a new prosecution team on a very complex case,” Walton said. “The passing of time may affect the ability to locate witnesses as well as their memories of the event.”

Scott County District Court records did not indicated Tuesday night that District Judge Henry Latham had ruled on the motion.

Dinkins is being held without bond in the Marshal County Jail.