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State of Iowa v. Anthony Joseph Melton

May 15, 2013

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



Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Romonda D. Belcher, District Associate Judge.

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

Anthony Melton appeals his judgment and sentence for assault with intent to commit sexual abuse. AFFIRMED.

Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Tabor and Mullins, JJ.

Anthony Melton appeals his judgment and sentence for assault with intent to commit sexual abuse. He argues: (1) there is insufficient evidence to support the jury's finding of guilt, (2) the district court erred in admitting hearsay statements, and (3) his trial attorney was ineffective in failing to object to what he characterizes as irrelevant and prejudicial testimony.

I. Sufficiency of the Evidence

The jury was instructed that the State would have to prove the following elements of assault with intent to commit sexual abuse:

1. On or about January 22, 2011, Anthony Melton assaulted L.T.

2. Anthony Melton did so with the specific intent to commit a sex act, by force or against the will, of L.T.

Melton focuses on the second element and, in particular, the specific intent requirement. He argues, "In [his] drunken state he severely overestimated his charms with L.T. and she declined his advances," but "[t]here is nothing in the record to suggest that Melton intended to engage in sexual activity that was by force or against L.T.'s will." Our review of the issue is for substantial evidence. State v. Hennings, 791 N.W.2d 828, 832-33 (Iowa 2010).

A reasonable juror could have found the following facts. L.T. was "hanging out" with long-time friend Kyle and Kyle's brother, Joe, at the home of their mother. Kyle's cousin, Melton, was staying with Kyle and Joe's mother. He came home from work and offered to accompany L.T. to a fast food restaurant to pick up food for the group.

Once in the car, Melton asked L.T. if she wanted to have sex with him, using what L.T. characterized as "vulgar" terminology. L.T. made it clear she was not interested, but Melton continued his sexual advances. He spoke crudely about her breasts and put his hand inside her bra. L.T. grabbed his hand and pulled it away from her shirt.

When they arrived at the restaurant, Melton forced his hand down L.T.'s sweat pants, touching "the top" of the area near her vagina. He exposed himself to L.T. and tried to get her to touch his penis. L.T. pulled her hand away.

On returning home, Melton attempted to take L.T.'s car keys so she would have to spend the night. L.T. refused to relinquish the keys. When they went inside, L.T. told Kyle she wanted to leave. Melton brazenly persisted in his advances. He sat next to L.T. and tried to touch her buttocks on the outside of her clothing. He attempted to give her a hug while putting his hand between her legs. And, when she was on the verge of leaving, he pushed her into his bedroom, closed the door, and tried to kiss her. L.T. opened the door and left.

These facts amount to more than substantial evidence in support of a finding that Melton harbored a specific intent to commit a sex act by force or against L.T.'s will. See State v. Radeke, 444 N.W.2d 476, 478 (Iowa 1989) (finding sufficient evidence to generate a jury question on specific intent based on the defendant's use of deception about his background, use of force and threats to get the woman to unbutton her blouse, and ...


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