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State v. Trowbridge

Court of Appeals of Iowa

March 12, 2014

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
RYAN N. TROWBRIDGE, Defendant-Appellant

Editorial Note:

This decision is published in table format in the North Western Reporter.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Scott D. Rosenberg, Judge. Ryan Trowbridge appeals from the judgment and sentence following his convictions of first-degree murder and child endangerment resulting in death.

S.P. DeVolder of The DeVolder Law Firm, Norwalk, for appellant.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Tyler J. Buller, Assistant Attorney General, John P. Sarcone, County Attorney, and Nan M. Horvat and Steven Foritano, Assistant County Attorneys, for appellee.

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

OPINION

DOYLE, J.

Ryan Trowbridge appeals from the judgment and sentence following his convictions of first-degree murder and child endangerment resulting in death. Trowbridge challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to support his convictions and the admission of certain rebuttal evidence presented by the State. He also claims his murder conviction is precluded under Heemstra principles. We affirm.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings

On February 28, 2010, A.F. gave birth to R.T. The child's father was Ryan Trowbridge. In July 2010, R.T. was a healthy four-month-old infant described as " happy" and " perfect," who was developing normally for her age.

A.F. and R.T. lived with Trowbridge in Ankeny. Trowbridge cared for the child while A.F. worked in the morning through early afternoon. A.F. then cared for R.T. in the afternoon and evening while Trowbridge worked. A.F. and Trowbridge also received help from the child's grandparents and other family members who lived nearby.

On the morning of July 12, 2010, Trowbridge called A.F. at work and told her there was an emergency with the child. That week, A.F., R.T., and Trowbridge were house-sitting A.F.'s parents' house a few blocks from their apartment but their " daily routine was still the same." A.F. worked several blocks away and got to the house within minutes.

Trowbridge told A.F. that R.T.'s head had become stuck facedown in between the mattress and the headboard. A.F. saw R.T.'s condition and became frantic as Trowbridge called 911. The 911 operator dispatched EMTs and instructed Trowbridge on CPR. When the EMTs arrived, they found R.T. in acute distress and not breathing. The child was transported to Blank Children's Hospital, where doctors found no brain activity. R.T. died the next day at the hospital.

An autopsy revealed the child had a fresh subdural hemorrhage, a traumatic axonal injury in the lower part of the brain near the spinal cord, bleeding within the spine, and bleeding around the eyes to the brain internally.[1] The child had detached retinas in both eyes and extensive retinal hemorrhaging in both eyes. Physicians and medical examiners opined the injuries to R.T.'s neck and head were consistent with a trauma such as an acceleration and deceleration injury. The chief Polk County medical examiner stated the child's eyes were some of the worst eyes he had examined in his entire career, and there was no question in his opinion R.T. suffered an abusive trauma. The examiners further opined the child's head injury occurred immediately before she became symptomatic and resulted in ...


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