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State v. Hill

Court of Appeal of Iowa

May 30, 2013

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
JOSEPH STEVEN HILL, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Eliza Ovrom, Judge.

         Joseph Hill appeals from a conviction of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated.

          Ryan R. Gravett of Oliver Law Firm, P.C., Windsor Heights, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Linda J. Hines, Assistant Attorney General, John Sarcone, County Attorney, and David Porter, Assistant County Attorney, for appellee.

          Considered by Eisenhauer, C.J., and Potterfield and Tabor, JJ.

          EISENHAUER, C.J.

         Joseph Hill appeals from a conviction of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated. He asserts the State presented insufficient evidence to the jury that he was operating the vehicle in question. He also contends the prosecutor made improper statements during closing arguments.

         I. Facts.

         On October 29, 2012, Police Officer Andrew Wierck was overseeing the impoundment of a vehicle on the side of the road and saw a van run a red light. Officer Wierck saw the van pull into a Quiktrip and then back up to a gas pump. After completing the impoundment, the officer drove to the Quiktrip, pulled behind the van, and approached a man who was about to pump gas. The man identified himself to Officer Wierck as Joseph Bonner, denied being the driver of the van, and stated the driver was inside.

         Joseph Hill came out of the Quiktrip and asked what was going on. Officer Wierck asked Hill if he was driving the vehicle, and Hill said he was. Officer Wierck noticed indications Hill was intoxicated, administered field sobriety tests, and arrested Hill for operating while intoxicated.

         At trial, Officer Wierck testified as above. He acknowledged he did not see the driver of the van as it went through the red light and did not see who exited the van from the driver's seat at the gas pump. The State called no other witnesses.

         At trial, Hill testified:

Q. And you heard Officer Wierck claim earlier that your van ran a red light? Do you recall that that happened? A. Yes, he said my van ran a red light.
Q. No. Do you recall your van running a red light? A. No, I do not recall my van running a red light because I was watching. It was not red.
Q. What color was the light when the van entered the intersection? A. When I entered the intersection, the light started turning yellow then.

         On cross-examination, the prosecutor asked Hill:

Q. And you testified today, when I entered the intersection, right? A. No.
Q. You did not testify to that? A. No. I said when we entered ...

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