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State v. Bishop

Court of Appeal of Iowa

July 24, 2013

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
LOREN LEE BISHOP, Defendant-Appellant.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Scott D. Rosenberg, Judge.

Loren Lee Bishop appeals his conviction for homicide by vehicle.

Mark C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, and David Arthur Adams, Assistant State Appellate Defender, for appellant.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Sharon K. Hall, Assistant Attorney General, John Sarcone, County Attorney, and Brendan E. Greiner and James P. Ward, Assistant County Attorneys, for appellee.

Considered by Eisenhauer, C.J., and Danilson and Bower, JJ.

BOWER, J.

Loren Lee Bishop appeals his conviction for homicide by vehicle in violation of Iowa Code section 707.6A (2009). Bishop argues there is insufficient evidence to support his conviction in light of his prescription drug affirmative defense and the district court erred in allowing certain evidence into the record. We find sufficient evidence to support the conviction and also find the district court properly admitted evidence of Bishop's prescription refill history. We affirm.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings

On January 22, 2011, Loren Bishop refilled three prescriptions, all of which warned about possible side effects including dizziness and drowsiness.[1]Bishop had been on various medications for more than a year. The prescriptions were written by an orthopedic surgeon and pain management specialist, a family practice doctor, and a psychiatrist. Bishop, at various times, suffered from a number of ailments including a spinal cord and arm injury.

Bishop was later observed at Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino. He was repeatedly found asleep at a slot machine. After leaving the casino Bishop was observed driving his vehicle at the intersection of Army Post Road and Fleur Drive in Des Moines. Eyewitnesses testified that Bishop rolled through the intersection and came to a stop in the median where he was found slumped over his steering wheel. After speaking briefly with another driver, Bishop continued driving eastbound along Army Post Road. Bishop was next seen driving west on Army Post Road where he nearly collided with another vehicle. The driver of that vehicle, Terri Van Gorp, swerved to avoid Bishop and followed him, observing his erratic driving as he continued along Army Post Road. A passenger in Van Gorp's vehicle called 911 and alerted police to Bishop's behavior. A short time later Bishop's vehicle left the roadway and crashed through the back of Mary Miller's home, pinning her to a couch, and pushing her through the front of the home. Miller died from her injuries.

Following the crash Bishop stated that he had fallen asleep, was handicapped, and was not at fault. Bishop was transported to the police station where he tested negative for alcohol, though he was administered and failed a number of field sobriety tests. Officers concluded, based upon the test results, that Bishop was under the influence of some intoxicating substance at the time of the accident. A urine sample was obtained and indicated the presence of the following prescription drugs: gabapentin, methadone, venlafaxine, a metabolite of venlafaxine, alprazolam, a metabolite of alprazolam, and a metabolite of tramadol.[2]

On March 3, 2011, a trial information charging Bishop with homicide by vehicle was filed. Bishop pled not guilty and advised the State of his intention to rely upon a prescription drug affirmative defense found in Iowa Code section 321J.2(11). Following a jury trial where Bishop was convicted, he was sentenced to an indeterminate term not to exceed twenty-five years in prison. Bishop appeals, arguing there was insufficient evidence to rebut his prescription drug affirmative defense and certain evidence was improperly admitted into the record.

II. Standard of Review

Challenges to the sufficiency of evidence are reviewed for errors at law. State v. Sanford, 814 N.W.2d 611, 614–15 (Iowa 2012). Evidence is viewed in the light most favorable to the verdict and all legitimate inferences and presumptions are construed in that light. Id. at 615. "Evidence is considered substantial if, when viewed in the light most favorable to the State, it ...


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