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State of Iowa v. Anthony Joseph Melton

February 13, 2013

STATE OF IOWA, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
ANTHONY JOSEPH MELTON, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Scott D. Rosenberg, Judge.

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

Defendant appeals his conviction for operating a motor vehicle without owner's consent. AFFIRMED.

Considered by Eisenhauer, C.J., and Vogel and Vaitheswaran, JJ.

Following a bench trial, Anthony Tony Melton was convicted of operating a motor vehicle without owner's consent and assault causing bodily injury. Melton appeals his motor vehicle conviction. First, he argues the evidence was insufficient to establish he operated the vehicle without the owner's consent because registered-owner Kyle Stanley did not testify at trial and was not interviewed by the investigating police officer.

We review Melton's challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence for correction of errors of law. See State v. Webb, 648 N.W.2d 72, 75 (Iowa 2002). We will uphold a conviction if it is supported by substantial evidence. Id. We "view the evidence in the light most favorable to the State, including legitimate inferences and presumptions that fairly and reasonably may be deduced from the evidence in the record." State v. Hoeck, 547 N.W.2d 852, 859 (Iowa Ct. App. 1996).

Christina Stanley and her two small children live in Dexter with Christina's mother. Christina is taking classes at Kaplan University in Des Moines. Since November 2010, Christina's father, Kyle Stanley, provided her with the use of his 1997 Mercury Sable. Christina testified she was "borrowing" this car from her father and her father used a different car. Christina planned to return the Mercury to her father when she was able to afford her own car.

Christina and Melton had been dating for five months. On March 30, 2011, Christina drove the Mercury to pick up Melton. Earlier in the day, she had told him she wanted to end their relationship. As she was driving with Melton in the passenger seat, Christiana continued the process of ending their relationship.

When Christina's cell phone rang, Melton took it and reviewed her text messages. Melton became upset with Christina and yelled at her. Melton punched Christina's right arm two times in quick succession. Due to Melton's assault, Christina wanted to be in a public place and she pulled into a Clive McDonald's. Christina grabbed the car keys, ran inside, and asked to use the business's phone to call the police. Melton followed Christina inside, told her he needed a ride, grabbed her arm, and tried to pull her out of the building. A customer intervened and told Melton to leave. Melton took the car keys from Christina's hand and drove away in the Mercury. Officer Rehberg arrived and observed a visibly upset Christine with redness and swelling on her upper right arm.

The next day, Melton gave the keys to Christina's brother-in-law, and the car was retrieved from the location Melton specified. Also the next day, Melton agreed to an interview with Officer Rehberg. Melton eventually stated if he hit Christina, it was an accident. Melton also stated Christina told him, "I'm tired of this. I'm scared of you. I'm calling the police." During his investigation, Officer Rehberg did not speak with Kyle Stanley, and Kyle did not testify at trial. Officer Rehberg testified:

Q. Do you remember who [Melton] said the owner was?

A. He said it was Christina's car.

Q. Okay. Did he tell you whether Ms. Stanley gave him permission to take the car? A. He said he did not have permission.

. . . . Q. Let's talk about the car . . . . [W]hen you spoke with Mr. Melton, he told you . . . it was ...


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