- Associated Press - Friday, January 22, 2016

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A man whose second-degree murder conviction was thrown out by the state appeals court must face a new trial in the case in which a mob beat a Des Moines man to death in a downtown parking lot in 2013.

The Iowa Supreme Court on Friday ruled that Kent Tyler III must face a new jury on the charges involving the death of 40-year-old Richard Daughenbaugh.

Tyler, now 20, was convicted of second-degree murder in December 2013 and sentenced to 50 years in prison for the August 2013 slaying of Daughenbaugh. He’s been serving the sentence at the state prison in Anamosa.

Witnesses testified that Tyler punched Daughenbaugh after he arrived uninvited at a parking lot where dozens of young people were partying. The witnesses said Tyler’s punch knocked Daughenbaugh to the ground and several partygoers attacked him, kicking and stomping him to death.

The appeals court concluded there was insufficient evidence to prove any of the prosecution’s three theories implicating Tyler and reversed his conviction.

The Supreme Court’s ruling reversed that finding, saying a jury could have convicted him on two of the prosecution theories - principal liability for punching Daughenbaugh and aiding and abetting the crowd in his beating. The third theory - joint criminal conduct - required the state to prove there was a plan in place among several of the crowd participants including Tyler to continue the fight after the Tyler’s initial blow to the face that knocked Daughenbaugh to the ground.

While the justices said it’s a close question, there’s too much speculation required given the facts of the case.

“Having found that the joint criminal conduct theory was not supported by the evidence and should not have been submitted to the jury, we must reverse Tyler’s conviction and remand for a new trial,” the court said.

The Iowa court noted it is not alone in throwing out verdicts and ordering new trials when one of multiple prosecution theories given to the jury is not supported by evidence. The court listed rulings in Kansas, Massachusetts, Ohio, Oklahoma and Washington.

Prosecutors often present to juries several theories for which they believe they have evidence to prove a crime. In doing so they must prove facts of the case support all the theories alleged.

The court’s ruling means Tyler returns to Polk County court for a retrial on the two prosecution theories that remain.

“Obviously we’re happy that at least he gets a new trial,” said his attorney, Angela Campbell.

Two other men present when Daughenbaugh was beaten also are serving lengthy prison sentences.

James Shorter and Yarvon Russell, both 21, were convicted of second-degree murder in May 2014 and both are in prison on 50-year sentences.

Tyler’s half-brother, Le’Prese Williams, was acquitted by the same jury that convicted Shorter and Russell.


Follow David Pitt on Twitter at https://twitter.com/davepitt

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