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State v. Thomas

Court of Appeal of Iowa

August 7, 2013

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
TREMAYNE THOMAS, Defendant-Appellant.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Thomas G. Reidel, Judge.

Tremayne Thomas appeals from his convictions for: possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance—crack cocaine, possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance—marijuana, and interference with official acts.

Lauren M. Phelps, Davenport, for appellant.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Elisabeth S. Reynoldson, Assistant Attorney General, Michael J. Walton, County Attorney, and Kelly Cunningham, Assistant County Attorney, for appellee.

Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Mullins and Bower, JJ.

POTTERFIELD, P.J.

Tremayne Thomas appeals from his convictions for: possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance—crack cocaine, possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance—marijuana, and interference with official acts. He argues substantial evidence does not support his drug convictions, the trial court erred in denying his motion regarding the striking of a potential alternate juror, and his counsel was ineffective in various ways. We reverse in part and remand, finding substantial evidence does not support the verdicts for possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver. We affirm regarding the last count, finding Thomas's Batson challenge is without merit and he was provided with effective assistance of counsel.

I. Facts and proceedings.

On March 1, 2012, two police officers were joining others in the pursuit of a suspect in a Davenport neighborhood. They passed an apartment where they overheard shouting and banging on a window; they asked two individuals standing outside of the apartment whether everything was okay. One of these two individuals was Thomas. They responded everything was fine and went inside. The police attempted to make contact with someone living in the residence, who told them there was no reason to worry and that no one else was inside. The police found this suspicious based on their observations but continued their search. A few minutes later, they walked past the apartment again, and the shouting had begun once more. One of the officers approached a window and heard a female's voice yelling that another occupant should not let police in the door and they were lucky no one went to jail. At this time the officer observed through a window in the apartment a man named Henderson pull a marijuana blunt from his sweatshirt pocket and begin smoking. Another individual came to the apartment and was let in; when the door opened the officers could smell marijuana. The officers entered the apartment and announced themselves.

As the officers entered, Thomas and Henderson quickly went into a bedroom. Henderson immediately went toward the back left corner of the bedroom, where police later found Henderson's cell phone and medication. Thomas closed the door after entering the bedroom and held it shut as an officer attempted to open it. Once the officer opened the door, he ordered Thomas and Henderson to lie on the ground. Henderson—still in the corner near his phone— immediately complied; Thomas would not, instead commenting to the officers that he did not know why they were there. One of the officers later testified this behavior appeared to be misdirection to distract them from something Thomas wanted to hide. Ultimately, after Thomas's noncompliance, the officer grabbed Thomas and shoved him on the ground. The officers located four individually wrapped one-gram bags of marijuana and four individually wrapped bags of crack cocaine rocks next to where Thomas was standing behind the door, atop a row of the apartment owner's purses. No identifiable finger prints were found on the bags.

The officers kept Thomas and Henderson on the bed in the bedroom. The officers asked both men for identification, Henderson complied. Thomas gave a false name. In their search of Thomas's person, the officers found $120. Nothing of evidentiary value was found on any of the other occupants. A spoon with crack cocaine residue was found in the house, along with a marijuana blunt located in the kitchen. Thomas was arrested and charged with possession with intent to deliver crack cocaine, possession with intent to deliver marijuana, drug tax stamp violation, and interference with official acts. The drug tax stamp violation charge was dropped. During the jury trial, Henderson, the two officers, and two other police representatives testified. Henderson stated he did not bring the baggies to the house, though he did bring marijuana. He stated Thomas thought there might have been a warrant out for his arrest, but that he did not know whether the drugs discovered in the bedroom belonged to Thomas. The jury convicted Thomas of all three counts. He appeals.

II. Analysis.

We review challenges to the sufficiency of evidence for the correction of errors at law. State v. Truesdell, 679 N.W.2d 611, 615 (Iowa 2004). We review challenges to racially-motivated juror strikes de novo. State v. Mootz, 808 N.W.2d 207, 214 (Iowa 2012). Finally, our review of whether a defendant was provided ...


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