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State of Iowa v. Victor Lawrence Pelletier

December 12, 2012

STATE OF IOWA, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
VICTOR LAWRENCE PELLETIER, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, C.H. Pelton, Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Eisenhauer, C.J.

Defendant appeals his conviction, arguing his trial counsel was ineffective. AFFIRMED.

Considered by Eisenhauer, C.J., and Doyle and Tabor, JJ.

Victor Pelletier appeals his third-degree sexual abuse conviction arguing his trial counsel was ineffective in not objecting to the district court's competency inquiry of the victim. We affirm.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

Pelletier was charged with sexual abuse based on allegations he put his mouth on the penis of C.H., the twelve-year-old neighbor he was baby-sitting while C.H.'s mother was away overnight. Another neighbor, Doug Peiffer, testified he was at home around 5:30 a.m. on a cold winter morning when he heard C.H. pounding on the door while screaming, "He's raping me. He's raping me." When Doug opened the door, a hysterical C.H. darted into the house. C.H. was carrying his coat and shoes and wearing one sock. Doug called the victim's mother, who called the police. Officer Thompson arrived, talked with C.H., and testified to C.H.'s demeanor-being in shock.

Kathleen Wiseman, Doug's mother, testified she was sleeping and was awakened by C.H. banging on the door. Further, C.H. "came running in and crying, 'That man raped me. That man raped me.'"

Later that morning, Officer Crouch interviewed Pelletier at the police station. Officer Crouch testified Pelletier stated he and C.H. were on the couch underneath a blanket watching a movie and they both fell asleep. Pelletier denied abusing C.H., and he asserted the incident was C.H.'s dream or C.H. was just out to get him. Further:

Mr. Pelletier stated . . . he woke up . . . got up to go to the bathroom, went to the bathroom, got a cigarette, came back to the living room to where the couch was located, [C.H.] was gone.

[C.H.'s] pillow was still on the couch, and the door was unlocked and open.

At trial, after C.H. was sworn in, he was questioned by the court:

THE COURT: Let me ask you another question. Do you know the difference between the truth and a lie?

C.H.: Yes.

THE COURT: Do you promise to tell the ...


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