Iowa man gets new trial in girlfriend’s stabbing death

December 18, 2019 GMT

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A court on Wednesday ordered a new trial for a Dubuque man who appealed his murder conviction after a judge didn’t allow him to present evidence of his girlfriend’s history of suicide attempts.

The Iowa Court of Appeals reversed the second-degree murder conviction for Fontae Buelow, who claimed his girlfriend had committed suicide by stabbing herself after they had an argument in 2017. His girlfriend, Samantha Link, died after suffering a stab wound to her heart and another that went completely through a lung.

The judges said Buelow should have been allowed to present evidence of Link’s history of suicide attempts and mental health issues.

The state charged Buelow with first-degree murder.

To help bolster his defense that it was suicide, he attempted to introduce Link’s records going back five years, which showed prior attempts, statements of suicidal intent and diagnoses of serious mental-health disorders. The judge allowed only a prior year’s worth of records to be discussed.

A jury convicted him of second-degree murder.

Appeals court judges found Link’s records would have aided Buelow in his defense and they concluded he should get a new trial that includes the background evidence.