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State v. Gasaway

Court of Appeals of Iowa

January 23, 2014

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
RONALD JAMES GASAWAY JR., Defendant-Appellant

Editorial Note:

This decision has been referenced in a "Decisions Without Published Opinions" table in the North Western Reporter.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Dubuque County, Robert J. Richter, District Associate Judge. Ronald Gasaway Jr. appeals his sentences, claiming the sentencing court did not state its reasons for the imposition of consecutive sentences.

Mark C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, and Patricia Reynolds, Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Mary Triick, Assistant Attorney General, Ralph Potter, County Attorney, and Alicia Stach, Assistant County Attorney, for appellee.

Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Mullins and McDonald, JJ. Mullins, J., concurs; Vogel, P.J., dissents.

OPINION

McDONALD, J.

Ronald J. Gasaway Jr. pleaded guilty to five aggravated misdemeanors: one count of domestic assault causing injury, as a second offender, in violation of Iowa Code section 708.2A(3)(b) (2011); and four counts of interference with official acts, causing injury, in violation of Iowa Code section 719.1(1). The five counts all arise out of an incident in which Gasaway physically assaulted his wife and then injured several peace officers while resisting arrest. The court sentenced Gasaway to two years' incarceration on each count, with said sentences to run consecutive to each other for a total term of incarceration not to exceed ten years. Gasaway appeals the court's sentence, arguing that the court did not state its reasons for the imposition of consecutive sentences.

" [T]he decision of the district court to impose a particular sentence within the statutory limits is cloaked with a strong presumption in its favor, and will only be overturned for an abuse of discretion or the consideration of inappropriate matters." State v. Formaro, 638 N.W.2d 720, 724 (Iowa 2002). An abuse of discretion occurs if " the decision was exercised on grounds or for reasons that were clearly untenable or unreasonable." Id. In imposing sentence, " [t]he court shall state on the record its reason for selecting the particular sentence." Iowa R. Crim. P. 2.23(3)(d). The reason stated does not need to be detailed, but " at least a cursory explanation must be provided to allow appellate review of the trial court's discretionary action." State v. Jacobs, 607 N.W.2d 679, 690 (Iowa 2000). " The trial court generally has discretion to impose concurrent or consecutive sentences for convictions on separate counts." State v. Delaney, 526 N.W.2d 170, 178 (Iowa Ct. App. 1994). " Consequently, the duty of a sentencing court to provide an explanation for a sentence includes the reasons for imposing consecutive sentences." Id. " The reasons, however, are not required to be specifically tied to the imposition of consecutive sentences, but may be found from the particular reasons expressed for the overall sentencing plan." Id. " Thus, we look to all parts of the record to find the supporting reasons." Id.

Following Gasaway's guilty plea, the court ordered that a presentence investigation report be prepared and set a sentencing hearing. At the sentencing hearing, two law enforcement officers provided victim impact statements regarding the injuries they sustained apprehending Gasaway. The victims requested incarceration and consecutive sentences. The State also argued for consecutive sentences. Gasaway's counsel argued for probation and placement at the Elm Street Correctional Facility for one year or until maximum benefits were received as an additional term and condition of probation. The court listened to the victim impact statements, the arguments of counsel, and Gasaway's statement and then pronounced sentence:

THE COURT: Thank you. Please have a seat. Mr. Gasaway, there's several things that I take into account when making a decision about sentencing and I've taken those into consideration in your case. The first is your age, and I understand that at your age you still have a lot of life in front of you and that the--the need for rehabilitation is certainly important in this case. Your history, which is another factor I take into account, your criminal history does suggest that for whatever reason you haven't been deterred from your behavior. You served a 330-day jail sentence back in 2010. Apparently that didn't work either.
I also take into consideration your family situation. I understand that you want to have contact with your wife and you want to get a job as well. I take into--your employment situation as well into account and I understand you have had employment at Miracle Car Wash since 2009.
When I factor those things together, you might be in a situation where you could get the Elm Street facility, but there's also other things I take into consideration and that is the harm to the victims. In this case there was significant harm to the people that you affected. There's no doubt in my mind that what you did was intentional whether or not you remember it because of your condition or those things, but everything that I've heard here today does lead me to believe that you made conscious decisions during your interactions with law enforcement that led to their injuries, and they were significant injuries. I'm taking into account what they said about the fact that they are individuals that have a family life outside of their employment, and just because they take on a dangerous job doesn't mean you have the right to harm them in any way.
And then finally the deterrence issue. You need to understand that what you did was wrong. It was very wrong. People are affected every day by criminal behavior and I haven't even mentioned yet the harm that you've inflicted upon your wife. They come to the scene of the incident and they hear a disturbance ...

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