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State v. Watson

Court of Appeal of Iowa

June 26, 2013

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
ANTAVIS MARICE WARDELL WATSON, Defendant-Appellant.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Johnson County, Patrick R. Grady (guilty plea) and Douglas S. Russell (sentence), Judges.

Watson appeals from the judgment and sentence entered following his guilty plea to first-degree theft.

Mark C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, and Stephan J. Japuntich, Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Kyle Hanson, Assistant Attorney General, Janet M. Lyness, County Attorney, and Kristin Parks, Assistant County Attorney, for appellee.

Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Vaitheswaran and Bower, JJ.

BOWER, J.

Antavis Marice Wardell Watson appeals from the judgment and sentence entered following his guilty plea to first-degree theft. He contends his trial counsel was ineffective in allowing him to plead guilty to a crime without a factual basis. Specifically, he argues there is an insufficient factual basis to show he took a vehicle with the intent to permanently deprive the owner. He also argues the record does not establish the value of the vehicle was more than $10, 000.

Because we find the record is sufficient to establish Watson took a vehicle valued at more than $10, 000 with the intent to permanently deprive the owner, a factual basis for Watson's guilty plea was established. Trial counsel was not ineffective for allowing Watson to enter a guilty plea or in failing to advise him to file a motion in arrest of judgment. Accordingly, we affirm.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

After perpetrating acts of domestic abuse on his girlfriend on July 14, 2011, Watson took a 2006 Ford Ranger pickup truck from a nearby business. The vehicle was reported stolen at 9:45 a.m. that morning. At 10 a.m., police officers located the vehicle parked outside a home in Coralville and "made contact" at the front door but were not let into the home. Officers entered the home to search for Watson after spotting him on a balcony. He was discovered in the trunk of a vehicle parked in the garage with the keys from the Ford Ranger in his pocket.

Watson was charged with first-degree theft as well as third-degree kidnapping, willful injury, domestic abuse assault with intent to cause serious injury, domestic abuse assault, false imprisonment, and two counts of driving while barred. He entered into an agreement with the State to plead guilty to first-degree theft and domestic abuse assault with intent to cause serious injury in exchange for dismissal of the remaining charges.

The plea hearing was held on June 6, 2012. With respect to the theft charge, Watson admitted he took a motor vehicle that belonged to someone else without their permission. When asked if he intended to permanently deprive the owner of the vehicle, he answered, "Yes." The court then asked Watson if the value of the vehicle was at least $10, 000. Watson responded, "I don't know that. But I can only—." At that point, his attorney interrupted and said, "It was, " and Watson amended his answer to: "Yes." The court then asked, "If that would be the testimony, that it's worth more than $10, 000, you have no reason to contest it, correct?" Watson replied, "Correct." Watson then pleaded guilty to first-degree theft. The district court accepted the plea.

The sentencing hearing was held on July 16, 2012. In his allocution, Watson stated in part, "I mean, I'm not going to sit here and say I didn't take the truck, but they got the truck back within ten minutes of reporting it stolen." The district court sentenced Watson to serve ten years in prison for first-degree theft and two years for domestic abuse assault with ...


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