Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Robert A. Hutchison, Judge.
The defendant appeals his conviction for delivery of a controlled substance, alleging the evidence was insufficient to convict and the verdict was against the weight of the evidence.
Susan Stockdale, Des Moines, for appellant.
Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Elisabeth Reynoldson, Assistant Attorney General, John Sarcone, County Attorney, and Stephan Bayens, Assistant County Attorney, for appellee.
Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Danilson and Tabor, JJ.
Casey Lee Pinegar appeals his conviction for delivery of methamphetamine. He argues the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to find him guilty. He also argues the jury's verdict was contrary to the weight of the evidence. Because we defer to the jury's assessment of credibility on the sufficiency issue and because the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying the motion for new trial, we affirm his conviction.
I. Background Facts and Proceedings
On February 23, 2012, Trevor Terry, who was working with law enforcement, contacted Casey Pinegar and arranged to purchase an "eight ball" (approximately 2.5 grams) of methamphetamine. Des Moines Police Officers Chris Hardy and Robert Hoelscher provided Terry with $350 in serialized bills to complete the purchase. Terry recalls putting the money in his boot. The officers also searched Terry to ensure he had no drugs or other money on him.
The officers then drove Terry to a sandwich shop to meet Pinegar. They saw Terry get into the passenger side of a car driven by a man later identified as Pinegar. The officers followed the car until it arrived at Pinegar's apartment. Pinegar and Terry went into the apartment. When Pinegar asked for the cash, Terry could not find the $350. Terry began to search for the money. Pinegar handed Terry a flashlight and told him to look outside. Terry testified he believed the money may have fallen out of his boot and Pinegar may have picked up the cash and "pocketed it". Terry called Officer Hoelscher. Pretending to be his brother, Hoelscher told Terry to leave his phone on speaker so he could hear what was happening. Terry said Pinegar agreed to "front him" two grams of methamphetamine, meaning "take this and then pay me back."
While watching the apartment, the officers noticed a man with dreadlocks walk into the building. Over the speaker phone, they then heard another male voice in the apartment. Pinegar asked Terry to step out into the hallway. Pinegar allowed Terry back into the apartment when the other man left. That same man returned and gave money to Pinegar saying Pinegar had paid too much. Pinegar then gave Terry approximately two grams of methamphetamine. But because it was not the $350 worth of methamphetamine Pinegar agreed to front, Terry testified Pinegar also gave him sixty dollars. Terry testified he left the apartment with two grams of methamphetamine and three twenty-dollar bills. The officers discovered the sixty dollars was part of the serialized money given to Terry.
The officers later arrested Pinegar for delivery of a controlled substance. From jail Pinegar made phone calls purportedly regarding the incident to a female friend and to his mother. The court admitted recordings of these phone calls into evidence. In one phone call, Pinegar describes the events that took place during the transaction. In another, he says his arrest was from February when he was "playing around a little bit." In another phone call, he referred to specific places in his apartment and asked the female friend to "get that stuff out of there" because people would be coming to search.
A jury found Pinegar guilty. Pinegar stipulated he was a second or subsequent offender and an habitual offender. The court denied Pinegar's motion for a new trial, and sentenced him to no more than forty-five years in prison. Pinegar must serve at least one-third of that ...