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State v. Beechum

Court of Appeal of Iowa

May 30, 2013

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
RONNELL FREDERICK BEECHUM, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Robert B. Hanson (motion to suppress), D.J. Stovall (bench trial), and Michael D. Huppert (sentencing), Judges.

         Ronnell Frederick Beechum appeals from the judgment and sentences after a finding of guilty on charges of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, failure to possess a tax stamp, and assault of a peace officer.

          Cathleen J. Siebrecht of Siebrecht Law Firm, Des Moines, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Jean C. Pettinger, Assistant Attorney General, John Sarcone, County Attorney, and Andrea M. Petrovich, Assistant County Attorney, for appellee.

          Considered by Doyle, P.J., and Danilson, J., and Goodhue, S.J. [*]

          GOODHUE, S.J.

         Ronnell Frederick Beechum appeals from the judgment and sentences imposed after having been convicted of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, failure to possess a tax stamp, and assault of a peace officer after a trial to the court. The sentences imposed were not to exceed ten years, five years, and one year, respectively, all to run concurrently. Probation was denied. The defendant specifically alleges that the State did not offer sufficient evidence to support the charge of assault on a police officer, counsel was ineffective for failing to file a motion requesting a judgment for acquittal, that the trial court erred in not granting the defendant's motion to suppress the drugs seized, and that the court erred further in not appropriately exercising its discretion in sentencing.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         On June 6, 2011, at approximately 12:10 a.m., an officer observed the defendant walking down the middle of University Avenue in Des Moines with a two liter bottle in his hands. At least one motorist traveling in the 2200 block where he was walking had to stop to avoid hitting him. The officer stopped the defendant and asked for identification. The defendant was acting in a nervous manner. The officer decided to pat him down for weapons. When the pat down was under way, the defendant pulled away from the officer, spinning toward him, and struck the officer on the face with his hand. A second officer stepped in to help, and a scuffle ensued. The defendant was ordered to quit fighting, but he failed to do so. The defendant was finally subdued when one of the officers used a taser gun on the defendant. In placing handcuffs on the defendant, a plastic container containing thirty-three blue pills was discovered. The defendant stated that the pills were morphine and he was going to sell them. The pills were confirmed to be morphine. The defendant filed a motion to suppress, alleging that the stop of the defendant was in violation of the State and Federal Constitutions. The motion was denied.

         II. Standard of Review

         A. Sufficiency of the Evidence Sufficiency-of-the-evidence challenges are reviewed for errors of law. State v. Thomas, 561 N.W.2d 37, 39 (Iowa 1997).

         B. Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

         A claim of ineffective assistance of counsel is a constitutional claim and causes the scope of the review to be de novo. Taylor v. Sta ...


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