Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Washington County, Joel D. Yates, Judge.
Defendant appeals his convictions for involuntary manslaughter, two counts of second-degree theft, neglect of a dependent person, and two counts of dependent adult abuse.
Davis L. Foster and Christopher J. Foster of Foster Law Office, Iowa City, for appellant.
Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Elisabeth S. Reynoldson, Assistant Attorney General, and Larry Brock, County Attorney, for appellee.
Considered by Eisenhauer, C.J., Tabor, J., and Huitink, S.J. [*]
I. Background Facts & Proceedings.
The extensive record in this case provides support for the following facts. Joye Gentzler and her brother, William Robuck, were elderly individuals who owned a farm in rural Washington County, Iowa. They rented the property to Rodney "Joe" Bean. On June 7, 2002, Bean purchased the property by real estate contract for $21, 728. At that time the property had an assessed value of about $90, 000.
On March 9, 2004, Bean drove Gentzler and Robuck to an appointment with an attorney. Gentzler and Robuck each signed a general power of attorney appointing Bean as their attorney-in-fact. On the same day they both signed wills providing that if Robuck died first, all of his property would go to Gentzler, and if Gentzler died first, all of her property would go to Robuck. Bean was named as the beneficiary after the death of both Gentzler and Robuck.
Robuck was injured in 2005, and concerns arose that he and Gentzler could no longer live in their home. In May 2005 they moved to a low-income apartment for the elderly in Ainsworth. Although both Gentzler and Robuck received Social Security benefits and they were to receive payments from Bean on the real estate contract,  the apartment manager and other tenants noticed they had very little furniture and did not seem to always have enough food. Bean controlled Gentzler and Robuck's finances. There was evidence they may not have been fully cognizant of their own finances.
There was testimony Gentzler did not like going to doctors. On February 6, 2006, however, Gentzler saw Dr. Susan Chance-Reynolds for pain in her left shoulder. She was prescribed medication for high-blood pressure, osteoporosis, gastric reflux, and arthritis. Gentzler had follow-up visits with Dr. Chance-Reynolds in March, April, and May of 2006. Gentzler had a medical appointment with Mary Gieselman, a nurse practitioner, on November 21, 2006. At that time she weighed 134 pounds.
Robuck died on December 22, 2006. The following day, Bean moved Gentzler out of the apartment and into his house. Gentzler had no further medical appointments, and her prescription medications were not renewed after she moved to Bean's home. In short, she received no further medical care.
On November 29, 2007, Bean and his wife obtained a mortgage on their property for $55, 217. The amount of $10, 048 was paid to Gentzler from the proceeds to pay off the remainder of the real estate contract. The next day, however, through his power of attorney, Bean wrote a check to himself from Gentzler's checking account for $7000 and a check to his wife for $3000. There was also evidence that during 2007 Bean used a debit card on Gentzler's account to purchase chewing tobacco, cell phone minutes, motor oil, and dog food. Gentzler did not chew tobacco, have a cell phone or vehicle, or own a dog.
Gentzler died on February 27, 2008. At the time of her death she weighed seventy-four pounds. An autopsy showed she died from malnutrition and dehydration. Her right arm had been broken near the shoulder. Dr. Marcus Nashelsky, a pathologist, testified there were signs of healing, which showed the break had occurred some time previously. He stated her arm would have remained floppy because it had not been set and the two bone ends had not mended together. Gentzler also had ten rib fractures, which showed signs of healing. She had bruising which was consistent with falling down. Gentzler's brain showed signs of ...