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State v. Hansen

Court of Appeal of Iowa

September 5, 2013

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
AUSTIN DAVID HANSEN, Defendant-Appellant.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Black Hawk County, James C. Bauch, Judge.

Austin David Hansen appeals from his conviction of homicide by vehicle.

Mark C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, and Bradley M. Bender, Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Bridget A. Chambers, Assistant Attorney General, Thomas J. Ferguson, County Attorney, and Brook K. Jacobsen and Jeremy Westendorf, Assistant County Attorneys, for appellee.

Considered by Eisenhauer, C.J., and Vaitheswaran and Doyle, JJ.

DOYLE, J.

Austin Hansen appeals from his conviction of homicide by vehicle— unintentionally causing the death of another by operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, in violation of Iowa Code section 707.6A(1) (2009), following a bench trial. Hansen contends the evidence was insufficient to prove his intoxication was a proximate cause of the victim's death. We affirm.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

From the testimony at trial, a reasonable fact finder could find the following facts. On the evening of November 12, 2010, Hansen picked up his friend Kaley Kennison in his truck, and they drove to a bar to meet friends. Both Hansen and Kennison consumed alcohol at the bar. In the early hours of November 13, they left that bar and went to another establishment with friends, where Hansen drank some more. At some point, Hansen was kicked out of the bar and left, unbeknownst to Kennison.

Kennison learned Hansen had left her at the bar, and she was angry and began walking home. After several phone calls back and forth, Hansen went back and picked her up. Hansen then drove toward Kennison's home. During the drive, Kennison was sitting next to Hansen in his truck. Kennison was still angry about being left at the bar, and they bickered back and forth. At approximately 1:20 a.m., in a residential area on 13th Street, Hansen's truck smashed into a driveway retaining wall.

Amber Gordon lived near the accident scene. Just before the accident, as she was backing her car out of her driveway, she saw another vehicle coming towards her at a very high speed. She saw no other vehicles or other cars pass by—none before the speeding vehicle and none after. The vehicle seemed to be bouncing back and forth, both up and down and side to side. She heard a sound "kind of like screeching tires, " coinciding with the vehicle bouncing, but she did not see anything consistent with the vehicle slamming on its brakes. She believed the vehicle was traveling about sixty miles-per-hour in the twenty-five miles-per-hour speed zone. She then saw the vehicle speed up and veer towards the retaining wall, smashing into the wall.

A resident who lived near the accident scene called 911, and officers immediately responded. Officer Gavin Carmen arrived first and saw Hansen sitting on the ground next to driver's side door of the truck holding Kennison in his lap. Hansen was yelling, trying to get Kennison to respond to him. Kennison was gasping for air with irregular gasps of breaths. Officer Carmen checked and found Kennison had a pulse, but she was unresponsive. While he was near Hansen and Kennison, he detected an odor of alcohol, but he could not tell from whom the odor emanated. While waiting for the ambulance, Officer Carmen spoke with Hansen about the accident. Officer Carmen found Hansen appeared alert and seemed to understand what was going on.

Officer Brian Johannsen was second to respond, and while waiting for the ambulance, he viewed the accident scene. He saw tire tracks on the street that went up into the nearby yard and "tore up some grass." The tracks then went over the curb and into a driveway. Hansen's truck hit a vehicle parked in the driveway and the driveway retaining wall. The tire tracks were very long, approximately 100 feet ahead of the driveway. The front end of the truck was totaled.

The ambulance arrived, and Kennison was rushed to the hospital. While waiting for the second ambulance to arrive, Hansen was up walking around and talking on his cell phone. Officer Johannsen and another nearby officer ...


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