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State v. Seals

Court of Appeal of Iowa

November 6, 2013

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
EDDIE DEAN SEALS, Defendant-Appellant.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Cerro Gordo County, Christopher C. Foy (trial) and Colleen D. Weiland (sentencing), Judges.

Eddie Seals appeals his conviction following a jury trial for possession of marijuana.

Drew H. Kouris, Council Bluffs, for appellant.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Tyler J. Buller, Assistant Attorney General, Carlyle D. Dalen, County Attorney, and Erica Clark, Assistant County Attorney, for appellee.

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

VOGEL, P.J.

Eddie Seals appeals his conviction following a jury trial for possession of marijuana, claiming trial counsel was ineffective in failing to assert Seals's rights with respect to the penalty enhancement phase, and failing to make an evidentiary objection to the introduction of pictures of methamphetamine pipes at trial. Seals further argues the evidence was insufficient to establish he knowingly possessed marijuana, and the trial court erred in instructing the jury on the definition of possession. We preserve his ineffective claims for possible postconviction relief proceedings. We also find there was sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to conclude Seals knowingly possessed the marijuana, and he did not preserve error with respect to his jury instruction claim. Therefore, we affirm.

I. Factual and Procedural Background

On December 8, 2011, police tracked a robbery suspect to Seals's apartment. The suspect, Joshua Winders, was found taking a shower in the apartment's bathroom and was apprehended. Police waited in the living room of the one-bedroom apartment with Seals until a search warrant was obtained.

Upon a search of the residence, police found clothing belonging to Winders on the bathroom floor, as well as cash from the robbery hidden in the toilet tank. In Seals's bedroom, police found an electronic scale, two glass pipes used for smoking methamphetamine, and a .28 gram baggie of marijuana, which were located on the dresser. Inside the dresser police found prescription medication and paperwork belonging to Seals. In the bedroom closet police also found two glass methamphetamine pipes, straws, and a baggie in a fanny pack. On top of the television in the living room police found two more pipes, one of which was for methamphetamine and the other for marijuana.

Seals was arrested following the search of the apartment. The State filed a trial information on December 15, 2011, charging Seals with possession of marijuana as a third or subsequent offender. On February 6, 2012, the trial information was amended to charge Seals with being an habitual offender pursuant to Iowa Code sections 902.8 and 902.9(3) (2011). The case proceeded to trial on September 11, 2012, and the jury returned a guilty verdict on September 13.

At trial, Seals testified in his own defense, claiming he knew nothing of the drugs or paraphernalia, and that Winders must have placed the items in Seals's apartment. However, investigator Jeremy Ryal testified Seals never mentioned Winders going into his bedroom when police were conducting the search of the apartment. As to the amended trial information, Seals testified during direct examination that he had two prior felony convictions. Because Seals made this admission, a second trial to prove the prior convictions for the sentencing enhancement was not held. Seals appeals.

II. Ineffective Assistance of Counsel Claims

Seals asserts "trial counsel failed to safeguard [his] rights during his enhancement proceeding." Citing State v. Kukowski, Seals argues: "It is time for this court to establish a bright-line ruling on this issue to require a colloquy identical or at least similar to the colloquy required for a plea of guilty." See State v. Kukowski, 704 N.W.2d 687, 692 (Iowa 2005) ("An affirmative response by the defendant under the rule . . . does not necessarily serve as an admission to support the imposition of an enhanced penalty as a multiple offender. The court has a duty to conduct a further inquiry, similar to the colloquy required under rule 2.8(2), prior to sentencing to ensure that the affirmation is voluntary and intelligent."). Seals also claims counsel was ineffective for failing to ...


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