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Hamby v. State

Court of Appeals of Iowa

February 5, 2014

LAWRENCE W. HAMBY, Applicant-Appellant,
v.
STATE OF IOWA, Respondent-Appellee

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 Bremer County, Rustin T. Davenport, Judge. Lawrence Hamby appeals from the denial of his application for postconviction relief.

Wallace L. Taylor, Cedar Rapids, for appellant.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Linda J. Hines, Assistant Attorney General, and Kasey E. Wadding, Bremer County Attorney, for appellee State.

Heard by Potterfield, P.J., and Doyle and Bower, JJ.

OPINION

POTTERFIELD, P.J.

Lawrence Hamby appeals from the denial of his application for postconviction relief. He argues he was provided ineffective assistance of counsel when his trial lawyers failed to move to suppress statements he made to police during four interviews and when his appellate counsel failed to appeal the denial of his motion for new trial. We affirm.

I. Facts and Proceedings.

This is the second time we have heard Hamby's case on appeal. We set forth the facts as written in the direct appeal here.

On January 18, 2006, Michelle Otterbein received a call from her husband telling her that Nate McKinney, the son of his best friend Frank McKinney, had called him. Otterbein's husband told her Nate said Frank was dead and lying on the floor in Nate and Frank's home. Otterbein's husband asked her to go to the McKinneys' house right away. When she arrived, she found Nate walking around in the backyard talking on a cell phone that looked like Frank's cell phone. Nate told her he had called 911. She went into the house and found Frank dead on the living room floor.
At approximately 1:00 p.m., a paramedic arrived on the scene. The paramedic examined Frank's body and found no pulse or signs of breathing. The paramedic found that the body was cold and starting to stiffen. The paramedic noted that there was some kind of coagulated blood in the corner of Frank's mouth and some marks around Frank's neck and facial area. Thereafter, law enforcement officers and the medical examiner arrived. The medical examiner evaluated the body and determined the death was suspicious.
An autopsy was performed, and the medical examiner concluded Frank's death was a homicide, caused by trauma to the head, neck, and chest. Nine ribs had been fractured, and his face was beaten. Frank had also been strangled, and there were ligature marks on his neck from the strangulation.
Nate was interviewed by police, and his clothes were confiscated at the interview. Nate initially told police he discovered his father on the floor that morning. He told police that he had played video games with his friend and neighbor, Lawrence Hamby, the previous day. He also stated that he had taken Hamby's live-in girlfriend, Jenifer Meana, to the hospital the previous night and that Hamby had been out of town fixing a friend's computer.
After the interview, Nate went to stay with an uncle. He discussed Frank's death with his family members. The next day, Nate told his family that he " couldn't cover for that dude anymore." Nate called the detective working on the case and told them that he had lied for Hamby.
. . . .
After receiving Nate's new statement, police conducted two searches of Hamby's home. In the basement, the officer found a syringe and needle, an empty syringe package, a pill bottle, and a plastic bag full of needles and syringes. On the main floor, the officer found a bottle of Everclear. The officers later found a belt and a bat in a cupboard in Hamby's kitchen. Another officer found a black and orange extra-large t-shirt, a red rag or cloth, and a small baseball bat underneath the stairway leading to the second level of the home. Another belt was found on Hamby's bedroom floor.
Hamby was interviewed by the police. Although he admitted he was present at Frank's house prior to and after Frank's death, he denied killing Frank. Hamby told the police that he leaned over Frank's body to determine if he was alive.
On April 24, 2007, Lawrence Hamby was charged with murder in the first degree, in violation of Iowa Code section 707.2(1) (2007). Prior to trial, Hamby filed a motion in limine to exclude evidence of his probation-parole status, among other things. A jury trial commenced on January 6, 2009.
Nate testified that he had initially lied to the police, as Hamby had asked. He testified he had then come clean and gave his account of the events, as recounted above. Nate also testified that he and his father had a rocky relationship. Nate admitted he had previously stolen money and drugs from Frank. Nate testified he was positive that he did not go home while Meana was at the hospital, and that he was not at home between 9:45 and 10:30 p.m. that evening.
Meana testified she thought Nate had been wearing different pants than the ones confiscated by the police. She testified that Nate took her to the hospital for her migraine and that he had stolen needles, syringes, and other supplies from the hospital. She testified he had left her room to smoke and to make a few calls. She testified she was awake off and on in her treatment room, and that Nate had been asleep in her room too. She testified that after she and Nate returned to her and Hamby's house, she checked her messages on her cell phone that she had left at home. She testified she had one from Hamby asking where they were and to pick up the phone. She did not recognize the phone number and said the number aloud. Nate recognized it as his father's number. She testified that Hamby came home frantic and told Nate that his dad was dead. He told Nate that his dad had worn a wire to a drug deal. She testified that Nate wanted to call the police, but Hamby told him that the police would think Nate killed his father. Hamby had Frank's phone when he returned to the house. She testified that she saw Hamby and Nate ...

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