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State v. Lafontaine

Court of Appeal of Iowa

September 5, 2013

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
ANDRE MICHAEL LAFONTAINE, Defendant-Appellant.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Hardin County, Paul B. Ahlers, District Associate Judge.

Defendant appeals his convictions for operating while intoxicated, second offense, and eluding.

Chad R. Frese of Kaplan, Frese & Nine, L.L.P., Marshalltown, for appellant.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Bridget A. Chambers, Assistant Attorney General, and Randall J. Tilton, County Attorney, for appellee.

Considered by Vogel, P.J., Vaitheswaran, J., and Huitink, S.J. [*]

HUITINK, S.J.

I. Background Facts & Proceedings.

On November 28, 2010, at about 2:00 a.m., Officer Lance Lemke of the Iowa Falls Police Department observed a vehicle drive by, in which the driver did not have his seatbelt fastened. Officer Lemke pulled out behind the vehicle in his marked patrol car with the red and blue lights flashing. He activated his siren for about thirty-five to forty seconds, but then accidentally disabled it and proceeded to use his air horn. The vehicle did not stop.

Another officer, Joe Mets, approached, and Officer Lemke advised Officer Mets his siren was not working. Officer Mets, who was also in a marked patrol car, activated his siren and lights. The officers tried on three occasions to get the vehicle stopped by trapping it between their patrol cars, but the vehicle did not stop. After traveling about one-half mile from where Officer Lemke initially tried to stop the vehicle, it pulled into a driveway.

The officers approached the vehicle and told the driver, Andre Lafontaine, to get out of the vehicle. Lafontaine would not comply. Eventually, one of the officers broke a window in the vehicle, and a "dry stun" with a Taser was administered. Lafontaine still would not respond to verbal commands so the "dry stun" was administered again. After Lafontaine was removed from the vehicle, he wrestled with the officers before they could get him handcuffed. Lafontaine was arrested for eluding at 2:13 a.m.

While Officer Lemke was transporting Lafontaine to the police station, he noticed Lafontaine had bloodshot eyes and an odor of alcohol. Lafontaine agreed to field sobriety tests. He failed the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, showing six out of six clues. He also had evidence of impairment on the nine-step walk and turn and one-leg stand tests. At 3:03 a.m., Lafontaine had a breath test which showed an alcohol level of .121.

On December 14, 2010, Lafontaine was charged with operating while intoxicated (OWI), in violation of Iowa Code section 321J.2 (2009), second offense, and eluding, in violation of section 321.279(1). After a jury trial on December 1, 2011, he was found guilty of both offenses. He was sentenced to 180 days in jail on each charge, with all but twelve days suspended, to be served concurrently and placed on probation. Lafontaine now appeals, claiming there is insufficient evidence in the record to support his convictions.

II. Standard of Review.

We will review a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence for the correction of errors at law. State v. Serrato, 787 N.W.2d 462, 465 (Iowa 2010). The fact-finder's verdict will be upheld if it is supported by substantial evidence. State v. Henderson, 696 N.W.2d 5, 7 (Iowa 2005). Substantial evidence means evidence that could convince a rational fact finder the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. State v. Heuser, 661 N.W.2d 157, 165-66 (Iowa 2003). In reviewing challenges to the sufficiency of the evidence, we give consideration to all the evidence, not ...


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