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State v. Stephenson

Court of Appeal of Iowa

October 2, 2013

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
ROBERT LYLE STEPHENSON, Defendant-Appellant.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Scott D. Rosenberg, Judge.

Robert Stephenson appeals his convictions following a jury trial for the crimes of conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance (methamphetamine), possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver (methamphetamine), and failure to possess a tax stamp.

Matthew G. Sease of Kemp & Sease, Des Moines, for appellant.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Jean C. Pettinger, Assistant Attorney General, Chandra Peterson, Student Legal Intern, John Sarcone, County Attorney, and Stephanie Cox, Assistant County Attorney, for appellee.

Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Danilson and Tabor, JJ.

VOGEL P.J.

Robert Stephenson appeals his convictions following a jury trial for conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance (methamphetamine), possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver (methamphetamine), and failure to possess a tax stamp, claiming substantial evidence does not support the verdict. Because substantial evidence exists to sustain the finding of guilt on each count, we affirm.

Stephenson's three convictions arise out of his activities the night of February 8, 2012. That evening, Stephenson, Phyllis Oberender, Marjurie Lara, and an unidentified male drove to a downtown Des Moines hotel. Stephenson, Oberender, and Lara went up to a room in the hotel. At trial, Oberender testified while she was putting on her makeup in the bathroom, Stephenson came in, moved ceiling tiles, removed items from the rafters, and handed them to her. One of the items was a sock, which Oberender placed on top of her purse. She put the other items in her front sweatshirt pocket. Stephenson and Lara instructed Oberender to leave by using the stairwell, instead of the elevator.

The three parties then met at the car and attempted to drive away, but were stopped by police. Oberender admitted to having illegal items on her person and directed police to the front pouch of her sweatshirt, in which police found methamphetamine and a green vial containing a small amount of marijuana. She further directed police to the sock in her purse, in which officers found methamphetamine, a digital scale, and a glass pipe that tested positive for Stephenson's DNA. During the initial interview, Oberender informed officers she did not know what was in the sock, but in a later interview, and at trial, she claimed to know she was transporting methamphetamine. Specifically, when asked whether she knew what was in the items, she stated:

A: I assumed, yes.
Q: What did you assume they were?
A: Drugs.
Q: Why did you assume that?
A: That's—I mean, they were wanting me to go a different way. They were being—it was obvious it was drugs. That's ...

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