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State of Iowa v. Rolando Nelson Jr

January 9, 2013

STATE OF IOWA, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
ROLANDO NELSON JR., DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, John D. Telleen, Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Vaitheswaran, P.J.

A defendant contends that the district court erred in determining the State lacked the burden of proving that he was not authorized to possess an offensive weapon. He also contends insufficient evidence supported the jury's finding of guilt, and that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. AFFIRMED.

Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Potterfield and Bower, JJ.

A jury found Rolando Nelson guilty of possession of an offensive weapon. See Iowa Code § 724.3 (2009). On appeal, Nelson raises three issues:

(A) whether the State had to prove he lacked authorization to possess an offensive weapon, (B) whether sufficient evidence supported the jury's finding of guilt, and (C) whether his trial attorney was ineffective in failing to object to the admission of certain evidence.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings

Terrida Atwater was sitting outside her Davenport home when five of her son's acquaintances, including Nelson, walked up to the house. Nelson asked Atwater's son to step off the porch. When he did not, Nelson lifted his shirt and revealed the butt of a gun. Atwater told Nelson to leave and immediately reported the incident to police.

A Davenport police officer dispatched to the scene saw Nelson emerging from an alley. Upon searching the alley, the officer found a sawed-off rifle.

The State charged Nelson with (1) possession of an offensive weapon and

(2) being a felon in possession of a firearm. At Nelson's first trial, Atwater initially refused to acknowledge that Nelson displayed a weapon. Following a break in the trial during which the prosecutor informed Atwater about the crime of perjury, Atwater returned to the stand and reaffirmed her pretrial rendition of events.

Nelson's first trial ended in a mistrial on the possession of an offensive weapon count and a dismissal of the felon in possession count. On retrial of the mis-tried count, Atwater identified Nelson as the person who displayed a weapon. When questioned about her inconsistent stories during the first trial, she intimated that she initially lied because Nelson's cohorts threatened her family's safety if she identified Nelson.

A jury found Nelson guilty of possessing an offensive weapon. This appeal followed.

II. Analysis

A. Jury ...


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