Jury selection in the murder trial of Jerome Power will not start until 1 p.m. today in Linn County District Court.
The court heard pro se motions filed by Power this morning. Power, 50, of Cedar Rapids, charged with first-degree murder, filed motions regarding an order for him to wear an electronic shock belt during the trial, new discovery and a continuance.
Power argued the motions himself, since he filed them without his attorneys, but Sixth Judicial District Judge Fae Hoover-Grinde ordered him to go over the motions with his attorneys before addressing the court so he wouldn’t jeopardize his case.
Power asked the court why the electronic shock belt was needed and argued it was cruel and unusual punishment, a violation of his Eighth Amendment rights.
Linn County Attorney Jerry Vander Sanden said the shock belt wasn’t a form of punishment, it was a legitimate security measure used by the Linn County Sheriff’s Office based on the seriousness of the offense.
Linn County Sheriff’s Sgt. Scott Williams testified it was the policy of the department to require all persons charged with a Class A felony, such as first-degree murder, to wear the belt. Williams said Sheriff Brian Gardner also considers a defendant’s demeanor and past disciplinary problems when enforcing the policy.
Hoover-Grinde said the court had discretion regarding this policy, but she was going to comply with the sheriff’s policy. The jurors won’t be told about the belt and it isn’t visible.
“The belt isn’t isn’t cruel or unusual punishment, and if you continue to behave yourself like you have this morning, it won’t be an issue,” Hoover-Grinde said.
Hoover-Grinde also denied his two other motions and said the trial will proceed as scheduled.
Power is accused of killing Doris Bevins, 68, who was found by police in her home unconscious on the floor with flannel pants wrapped around her neck Sept. 19, 2010, and died the next day, according to police reports. According to a medical examiner’s report, she died from asphyxiation by strangulation.
Power, who lived in the same apartment building, was found hiding inside behind the entry door of Bevins’ residence when police smashed a window to enter the locked apartment, according to a search warrant.