Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Woodbury County, John D. Ackerman, Judge.
Lamont Nichols appeals his conviction for robbery in the second degree, alleging his assault on the victim was unconnected to his companions' thefts.
Mark C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, and Nan Jennisch, Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.
Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Tyler J. Buller, Assistant Attorney General, Patrick Jennings, County Attorney, and James Loomis, Assistant County Attorney, for appellee.
Considered by Eisenhauer, C.J., and Potterfield and Tabor, JJ.
Lamont Nichols challenges the sufficiency of the evidence for his second-degree robbery conviction. Nichols concedes he assaulted Joseph Lefebvre and his friends took property from Lefebvre's apartment. But Nichols claims the State's case was missing a connection between the assault and the thefts.
Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the district court's verdict, we find adequate proof Nichols had the specific intent to commit a theft and assaulted Lefebvre, at least in part, to facilitate the removal of valuables from the victim's apartment and Nichols's exit from the scene.
I. Background Facts and Prior Proceedings
Nichols and Lefebvre fought outside a Sioux City after-hours club in the early morning hours of May 21, 2011. Lefebvre knocked Nichols to the ground and kicked him in the head, causing him to lose consciousness. Later that day, Nichols had revenge on his mind.
Nichols and four companions drove to Lefebvre's apartment, where they encountered Lefebvre's girlfriend, Aisha Reed, outside the door. Lefebvre and his seven-year-old son were inside. Nichols told Reed "there was going to be a problem." Then Nichols, Ernest Jeffries, Rufus Stevens, and Terry Baker all entered the apartment behind Reed. Eduardo Mendez waited for Nichols and company in the car.
Lefebvre heard his son scream and then saw Nichols, Jeffries, Stevens, and Baker lined up in his hallway. Nichols demanded to know where the drugs and money were. Lefebvre replied: "[T]here's nothing here. There's nothing to steal." Lefebvre then recalled the intruders started to punch him in the hallway. Nichols told Lefebvre: "This is what you get from last night."
Nichols and another man pushed Lefebvre into the bathroom and onto the floor, where they continued hitting him, as the other two intruders split off into Lefebvre's bedroom and living room. From his vantage point in the small apartment, Lefebvre could see one intruder trying to remove the television from the living room. When Nichols and the others fled the apartment, Lefebvre—who felt "excruciating pain" in his head and back—eased himself up from the bathroom floor.
Mendez recalled Jeffries coming back to the vehicle from Lefebvre's apartment, carrying a couple of hats and some shoes. Mendez "popped" the trunk so Jeffries could load up the items. Mendez testified that he could not see if his other companions placed goods in the trunk. Reed testified that a DVD player and television were also missing from her boyfriend's apartment. When Mendez dropped Nichols off at a residence, Nichols asked Mendez to open the trunk. When police executed a search warrant later that day at the home of ...