Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, John D. Telleen, Judge.
Christopher Langley appeals from the denial of his application for postconviction relief.
Lauren M. Phelps, Davenport, for appellant.
Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Martha E. Trout, Assistant Attorney General, Michael J. Walton, County Attorney, and Joseph A. Grubisich Jr., Assistant County Attorney, for appellee State.
Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Vaitheswaran and Potterfield, JJ.
Christopher Langley appeals from the denial of his application for postconviction relief. He challenges the representation of trial counsel at the reverse waiver hearing and the constitutionality of his sentences. We conclude criminal trial counsel was not ineffective in failing to argue the statutory requirements of reverse waiver. However, Langley was a juvenile at the time he was convicted; consequently, his life-without-parole and additional, consecutive sentences must be vacated. We remand for individualized resentencing.
I. Background Facts and Proceedings.
The underlying facts leading up to Langley's convictions are set out in the opinion addressing his direct criminal appeal:
After more than ten years of never missing a day of work, Mark Willis failed to report for work on the evening of February 20, 2004. Willis was last seen around 4:30 p.m. on that date when he stopped in at Jack's Brake & Alignment to visit with his friends, Terry and Cheryl Weipert. He left Jack's Brake & Alignment sometime after 5 p.m. in his maroon Jeep Grand Cherokee. He was on his way home to take a nap and eat before beginning his 10 p.m. work shift at FBG, a janitorial service in Davenport. Willis did not show up for his work shift that evening. Cheryl Weipert called the police to report him missing on February 23, 2004.
Days later, Willis's body was discovered lying face down in a creek at the bottom of a steep incline near a gravel road in a rural area of Scott County. He had been beaten and stabbed repeatedly. The medical examiner opined that Willis died from drowning. His Jeep was found abandoned on Interstate 74 near Bloomington, Illinois, with stolen license plates. The interior of the Jeep, which Willis had kept in pristine condition, was littered with food, clothing, cigarettes, garbage, and a citation issued to the defendant, Christopher Allen Langley, for possession of drug paraphernalia.
The Weiperts testified that Willis and Langley first became acquainted in the late nineties through the Weiperts and their auto shop business. Langley would often stop by the Weiperts' business before or after school because of his interest in cars. Willis was also a frequent visitor at the Weiperts' shop. He befriended Langley and attempted to be "sort of a big brother" to him. He took Langley to the movies, gave him money on occasion, and taught him how to drive.
On the evening of February 20, 2004, Langley's friends, Kyle Bahnsen, Kyle Long, and Lance Brady, met at Brady's house to plan their activities for the night. Bahnsen, Long, and Brady testified that Langley arrived at Brady's house sometime between six and seven o'clock. Langley and Brady left for a short period of time to "go get some weed." The teens smoked marijuana and decided to go play pool at a local club, Miller Time. Bahnsen, Long, Brady, and Langley left the house and got into a "dark colored" Jeep parked outside. Inside the Jeep were two of Langley's other friends, Michael Cargill and Trenton Howard. When Bahnsen, Long, or Brady asked where the Jeep had come from, they were told by the other three they had "killed someone for it." Right after they said that, they stated, "no, don't worry about it, we got it from a relative." Brady testified that at one point, Langley referred to himself, Cargill, and Howard as "thieves and murderers."
After leaving Brady's house, the group did not immediately go to Miller Time as they had planned. Instead, they drove to a secluded area on a gravel road. Langley and Cargill got out of the Jeep and said they were going to check on a body. The two went down a steep incline and "disappeared." When they returned, they told the others in the Jeep the man was dead and "still lying face down in a creek." The group then headed to Miller Time to play pool. On the way there, they stopped at the mall where ...