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State v. Blair

Supreme Court of Iowa

April 11, 1984

STATE of Iowa, Appellee,
v.
Avis Jackson BLAIR, Appellant. STATE of Iowa, Appellee,
v.
James Lee BLAIR, Appellant.

Page 417

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 418

Lu Ann White, Asst. Appellate Defender, for appellant Avis Jackson blair.

Raymond E. Rogers, Asst. Appellate Defender, for appellant James Lee Blair.

Thomas J. Miller, Atty. Gen., Steven M. Foritano, Asst. Atty. Gen., and D. William Thomas, Asst. County Atty., for appellee.

Considered by HARRIS, P.J., and McCORMICK, McGIVERIN, SCHULTZ and WOLLE, JJ.

McGIVERIN, Justice.

A jury in a joint trial convicted the defendants, James Lee Blair and Avis Jackson Blair, of first-degree murder in violation of Iowa Code sections 707.1 and 707.2 (1981), and second-degree theft in violation of Iowa Code sections 714.1 and 714.2. In these consolidated appeals, defendants contend (1) the evidence was insufficient to support the verdicts of first-degree murder and (2) that they were denied the effective assistance of trial counsel. Finding no merit in either contention, we affirm the defendants' convictions.

I. Sufficiency of the evidence. Defendants moved for a judgment of acquittal, Iowa R.Crim.P. 18(8), on the murder charges at the end of the State's case and again at the close of all the evidence on the ground that the State had presented insufficient evidence to sustain a conviction. In both instances, the motions were overruled. Defendants individually assert on appeal that the record lacks substantial evidence to support a guilty verdict and judgment of conviction for first-degree murder.

Defendants did not testify at trial.

When reviewing the sufficiency of evidence, we view the evidence in the light most favorable to the State, including all legitimate inferences and presumptions which may fairly and reasonably be deduced

Page 419

from the evidence in the record. It is necessary to consider all of the evidence and not just the evidence supporting the verdict. A jury verdict is binding upon this court and will be upheld unless the record lacks substantial evidence to support the charge. Substantial evidence means evidence which would convince a rational trier of fact that the defendants are guilty of the crime charged beyond a reasonable doubt. State v. LeGear, 346 N.W.2d 21, 23 (1984); State v. Wilkens, 346 N.W.2d 16, 20 (1984); State v. Freie, 335 N.W.2d 169, 171 (1983); State v. Aldape, 307 N.W.2d 32, 39 (Iowa 1981); State v. Schrier, 300 N.W.2d 305, 306 (Iowa 1981).

From the evidence at trial, the jury could have found the following facts.

On February 13, 1982, the victim, Aaron Goolsby, was found clothed only in a t-shirt lying on his back on his bed in his Des Moines apartment with his hands and feet bound with nylon hose. He had been stabbed in the chest three times and an autopsy revealed that those wounds were the cause of his death. It was obvious that some time had passed since his death for the body was described by the pathologist as being in a state of "marked decomposition." The pathologist further testified that he was unable to pinpoint the date or time of death because of the body's severely decomposed condition. For purposes of his autopsy report, the pathologist first estimated the date of death to be February 8. He emphatically testified at trial, however, that the date of death could not be accurately determined because of the body's condition. He could not rule out the possibility that the death could have occurred anytime between February 1 and 11.

The certificate of title to the victim's automobile was found by the police in a thorough search of the victim's apartment. His automobile, however, was missing. Avis Jackson Blair's fingerprints were discovered on several beer cans and a meat package, ...


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