DES MOINES, Iowa — Prosecutors can no longer use statements made by a defendant in an upcoming murder trial after a judge ruled the statements were made after a detective with the Des Moines Police Department violated the defendant’s constitutional rights.

In May 2022 officers with the Des Moines Police Department found Rhonda Howard, 56, dead in the basement of her home while performing a welfare check. A short time later Howard’s ex-boyfriend, Tony E. Arterberry, 58, was arrested by officers with the Des Moines Police Department as a suspect in Howard’s murder.

According to court filings, Arterberry’s attorneys requested that the statements he made to Detective Youngblut with the DMPD be suppressed because he was never read his Miranda Rights and Youngblut failed to honor his right to remain silent.

Arterberry’s attorneys also petitioned to suppress Howard’s autopsy reports because the State received the final report after the required time frame. Autopsy reports are supposed to be submitted to the State before 90 days after the individual’s death.

When Arterberry was arrested and placed in a police transport vehicle, Detective Youngblut began questioning Arterberry regarding Howard’s death before mirandizing him, court records said.

During the interrogation Arterberry invoked his right to remain silent several times, but Youngblut continued to question him, according to court records.

On October 19 the Court ordered that all of Arterberry’s statements made to Detective Youngblut cannot be used as evidence in the trial. The Court denied Arterberry’s motion to suppress the autopsy results.

The Des Moines Police Department said in a statement that the “department respects the courts ruling and the guidance included. In this case, with or without statements made by the defendant, a Murder – 1st Degree allegation is appropriate based on the abundance of other available evidence.”

Arterberry is expected to face trial on October 31 for first degree murder, first degree burglary, and robbery. If convicted, Arterberry faces a lifetime imprisonment.