Legal Experts Say to Expect Lengthy Process in Murder Trial

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On Friday the man police say murdered two police officers, Scott Greene, was informed he had been charged with two counts of first degree murder and would be held on a 10 million dollar cash bond.

Legal experts say he will sit behind bars in the Polk County Jail from anywhere between several months to over a year while the legal process plays out.

Lawyers say the first step will be finding if he's competent to stand trial.

“If he’s found incompetent to stand trial he will essentially undergo psychological evaluation and treatment and be placed in a mental health facility until he has the ability to assist in his defense and has that competency level back” said criminal defense attorney Matt Lindholm.

While that is happening the prosecution and defense build their case.  Lawyers say the prosecution will be studying forensics, ballistics, and interviewing witnesses. Meanwhile the defense will also be looking at evidence and the defendant’s mental health.

“They’re looking at two primary areas, the first is, is there sufficient evidence to show that he actually committed the offense and the second area would be is there other issues of insanity or diminished responsibility or diminished capacity that may come into play as part of the defense” said Lindholm.  “The defendant would have to show that he didn’t understand the difference between right and wrong or couldn’t understand his actions. It’s a tough threshold to show” he said.

Lawyers say the defense will probably try to move the trial out of Des Moines, but doing so could be a tall order.

“Finding a spot to have a fair and impartial trial where it hasn’t been saturated by news events, that’s going to be hard” said Lindholm.

Legal experts say it's also going to be hard for the public to wait for this trial, and sometimes it is hard to understand why the criminal justice system goes to such lengths for those charged with crimes like murder; but say the legal process is part of this country's fiber.

“The constitutional guarantees that people have in this country, sometimes people forget how important they are, and the process is so important it has to be protected” said Drake law professor Robert Rigg.

Rigg says that while the trial will come, the focus needs to be elsewhere.

“It’s a time for mourning; it’s a time for grieving. The time to resolve this case will happen well down the road” he said.

Greene’s next court appearance is scheduled for November 14.