Mablin seeks speedy trial

CLINTON — The attorney for a Clinton man, convicted of a 2007 murder, has submitted a demand for a speedy trial in regard to the defendant's retrial.

Attorney Jack Wolfe, on behalf of Benaiah Mablin, 37, has filed a demand for a speedy trial in regard to Mablin's retrial for the December 2007 stabbing death of Sandra Chambers-Singh.

The motion, filed on Oct. 25, states that on Sept. 5, District Court Judge John Telleen entered a ruling granting Mablin's application for post-conviction relief, a civil action that ultimately led to him being granted a second trial based on Mablin's claim of ineffective counsel at his first trial.

Wolfe's filing states that in granting Mablin's application for post-conviction relief, that the district court effectively vacated Mablin's conviction. The filing states that upon the entry of the Sept. 5 order, Mablin's legal status became a non-felon charged with the criminal offense of second-degree murder. The filing states that under the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and Article I, Section 10 of the Iowa Constitution, Mablin is to be tried within 90 days of the entry of the Sept. 5 ruling, meaning no later than Dec. 4.

The filing continues that on Sept. 17, the State filed a notice of appeal of the Sept. 5 order vacating Mablin's conviction based on his post-conviction relief claim.

Iowa Supreme Court Justice Edward Mansfield on Oct. 24 entered an order granting the State's application for a stay on the district court's order vacating Mablin's conviction. The ruling states the appellate order staying the execution of the post-conviction order entered does not reference the district court criminal case and does not purport to stay proceedings. The filing states the order vacating Mablin's conviction is a self-executing order since it "fixes" Mablin's status as a person who has not been convicted of the criminal offense charged and because it does not rely upon any affirmative action on the part of the State.

"In the absence of a valid order from either the appellate or district court staying proceedings in this case, proceedings in this case are not stayed, and thus Mablin's constitutional right to be tried on or before December 4, 2018, remains in full force and effect," the filing states.

The filing continues that due process demands Mablin be given an opportunity to resist entry of any order staying proceedings since any order would effectively serve as a judicial waiver of his right to a speedy trial.

"Wherefore, Mablin renews his prior demand for speedy trial and respectfully requests that this Court enter an order setting this matter for jury trial on or before December 4, 2018, and further requests that this Court confirm that the October 31, 2018, hearing on Mablin's motion to suppress will take place as scheduled," Wolfe states in the demand for speedy trial.

Clinton County Attorney Mike Wolf said the order granting the State's motion to stay means matters in the felony case, including the speedy trial requirement, are stayed until the State's appeal on the post-conviction case is heard by the Court of Appeals.

The history

A Clinton County jury in May 2008 found Benaiah Mablin guilty of second-degree murder in connection with the 2007 stabbing death of Sandra Chambers-Singh. He was originally charged with first-degree murder.

District Court Judge Mark Cleve on July 10, 2008, ordered Mablin be committed to the custody of the director of the Iowa Department of Corrections for a period not to exceed 50 years. Mablin was ordered to pay $150,000 in restitution to the estate of the victim.

Bruce Ingham of the Scott County Public Defender’s Office was appointed to represent Mablin in the case. District Court Judge John Telleen in September ruled that Ingham did not communicate effectively with Mablin or investigate his case adequately. He states in the ruling that Ingham did not pursue a credible argument that Mablin underwent a custodial interrogation on Dec. 13, 2007, without being given a Miranda warning. Telleen states the one-sentence motion to suppress filed was deficient since it contained no citations to case law and did little to alert the trial court to issues needing to be analyzed.

Mablin had previously filed a notice of appeal, challenging the trial court’s denial of his motion that sought to suppress the trial testimony of state witness Pastor Ray Gimenez. Mablin alleged the statements he made to Gimenez were privileged. The Court of Appeals held Mablin was not prejudiced by the admission of Gimenez’s testimony, whether privileged or not, affirming Mablin’s conviction. Mablin’s action for further review of the ruling was denied.

Mablin on Dec. 16, 2009, filed an application for post-conviction relief. The matter was dismissed without prejudice on Oct. 1, 2013. His application was reinstated Oct. 28, 2013.