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State of Iowa v. Tylor Richard Meyers

April 10, 2013

STATE OF IOWA, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
TYLOR RICHARD MEYERS, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Guthrie County, Paul R. Huscher, Judge.

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

Appeal from convictions of two drug-related offenses.

AFFIRMED.

Considered by Eisenhauer, C.J., and Danilson and Bower, JJ.

Tylor Meyers appeals from his convictions of two drug-related offenses. He contends the trial court abused its discretion (1) in denying him the opportunity to impeach a witness with the witness's prior felony convictions and (2) in overruling his chain-of-custody objection to certain physical evidence. We affirm.

Meyers was found guilty by a jury of possession of precursors with the intent to manufacture methamphetamine and conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine.

On January 15 a hiker came upon Meyers and his uncle in some trees about twenty-five or thirty feet up a hill off the hiking trail. Besides smelling an acidic, chemical smell, the hiker saw some items lying in the snow in front of their snowmobile. The hiker returned the next day, climbed to where he had seen the two men in the trees off the trail, and photographed the items he found there. They included a towel, a plastic bottle labeled "muriatic acid," wire cutters, lithium batteries and dismantled batteries, and paper coffee filters. He left the items where he found them. On February 14 the hiker took a deputy to the location of the evidence, which the deputy recovered. At trial, the deputy testified each item appeared to be the item depicted in the January 16 photos. The court overruled the defense's chain-of-custody objection to the evidence.

In addition to the items found in the woods, the State presented the testimony of Jesse Kirk. Prior to trial, the court had granted the State's motion in limine to prohibit mention of the criminal history of any of its witnesses "except as to any specifically impeachable offense(s) pursuant to Iowa Rule of Criminal Procedure, Rule 5.609(2)(b)." When Kirk testified, the State asked him if he had "a couple of felony convictions" and from what year. He agreed he had two felony convictions from 2006. On cross-examination the defense asked Kirk "what felonies" he had been convicted of. The court sustained the State's objection.

We review a trial court's rulings on the admissibility of evidence for an abuse of discretion. State v. Redmond, 803 N.W.2d 112, 117 (Iowa 2011); State v. Biddle, 652 N.W.2d 191, 196 (Iowa 2002). "A court abuses its discretion when its discretion is based upon erroneous application of the law or not supported by substantial evidence." State v. Harrington, 800 N.W.2d 46, 48 (Iowa 2011).

Impeachment. Meyers contends the court abused its discretion in not allowing him to inquire about Kirk's felony convictions under rule 5.609(a)(1) in order to impeach the witness. Rule 5.609(a) provides, in relevant part:

a. General rule. For the purpose of attacking the credibility of a witness:

(1) Evidence that a witness other than the accused has been convicted of a crime shall be admitted, subject to rule 5.403, if the crime was punishable by death or imprisonment in excess of one year pursuant to the law under which the witness was convicted, and evidence that an accused has been convicted of such a crime shall be admitted if the court determines that the probative value of admitting this evidence outweighs its prejudicial effect to the accused; and

(2) Evidence that any witness has been convicted of a crime shall be admitted if it involved dishonesty or false statement, regardless of the punishment.

The State introduced evidence Kirk had two felony convictions. On cross-examination defense counsel asked what the felonies were. The court sustained the State's objection to the question and no record was made concerning whether the crimes involved dishonesty or false statement, and if they did not, whether the evidence was more prejudicial than probative. See Iowa R. Evid. 5.609(a)(1). With no evidence of the identity or nature of the crimes we determine the record is ...


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