District Court Judge Thomas Bitter has decided that the 13-year-old son of an Earlville man accused of murdering his wife can testify.
Todd Mullis is accused of fatally stabbing Amy L. Mullis, 39, in the back with a corn rake on their farm Nov. 10. Mullis’ case was recently moved out of Delaware County to Dubuque County.
Bitter wrote that the matter of whether or not the boy would testify came before him Aug. 21. The hearing was scheduled based upon Attorney Alfredo Parrish’s motion for a protective order regarding any plan to elicit testimony from the boy, stating that the boy’s testimony would increase his trauma and emotional distress.
The Court received testimony from Tristin Hodges, the child’s counselor, who has seen the boy on 14 separate occasions. Hodges said she was not confident that the boy would ever be ready or able to testify in this matter.
Bitter said he made his decision after hearing arguments from each party involved.
“Without question, this circumstance is traumatic for the child. However, the charge is a Class A felony,” Bitter wrote. “The child appears to be a critical witness. The Court cannot deny the defendant’s right to present testimony from the child, or at least to conduct discovery with respect to the child’s position. The Court will take any steps possible to protect the child and make the situation less stressful.”
Bitter stated the defense is permitted to take videotaped deposition of the boy, which can occur at any location chosen by Parrish. The only people permitted to be present at the deposition, other than the court reporter, are the attorneys and Hodges.