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Dierenfeld v. Steffes

Court of Appeals of Iowa

November 26, 2014

DEBBIE L. DIERENFELD, Petitioner-Appellee,
v.
SCOTT M. STEFFES, Respondent-Appellant

Editorial Note:

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

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Robert A. Hutchison, Judge. Scott Steffes challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting a domestic abuse protective order.

Eric G. Borseth of Borseth Law Office, Altoona, for appellant.

F. John Spellman of Spellman Law Office, Des Moines, for appellee.

Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Doyle and Tabor, JJ.

OPINION

DOYLE, J.

Scott Steffes appeals from the district court's final protective order entered in Iowa Code chapter 236 (2013) proceedings, contending the record is insufficient to support the district court's determination he committed domestic abuse assault against his estranged girlfriend, Debbie Dierenfeld. Because a preponderance of the record evidence establishes Scott committed domestic abuse assault against Debbie, we affirm.

I. Background Facts & Proceedings

Debbie and Scott lived together from the early months of 2012 until July 2013. They have one child together, born in April 2012. Debbie filed a petition for relief from domestic abuse in February 2014 following a string of incidents involving Scott.

Debbie testified Scott " used to terrorize me at night and not let me sleep, tell me he would kill me and no one would find out" and that Scott was " violent and throwing things around." Debbie stated during one altercation in April 2013, she tried to call 911, but Scott " smashed" her phone. When Debbie picked up their child and went to the child's bedroom, Scott " came in and slammed the crib against the wall, leaving a hole, and then starting throwing things around in her room and told me he would kill me if I left." Debbie was fearful of Scott.

Debbie testified that after she and the child moved out, Scott " would text me incessantly with threats" " [s]ometimes 20, 30 times a day," " would call 20, 30 times a day," and he " showed up at my work." Exhibits 1 and 2 were entered into evidence. In Exhibit 1, Scott sent a text message to Debbie, " You lie all the time . . . I can't wait to see you. . . . You need to return my medicine and wallet tonight. I have a lot of slundge [sic] hammers." Debbie testified Scott's message was threatening. In Exhibit 2, Scott sent a text message Debbie about property and a potential settlement, concluding, " And well for everyone, well what going around comes around. . . . Arson." Debbie testified she took the word " arson" in Scott's text message to mean " [t]hat he would burn the house--houses down. He had told me that in person before."

In January 2014, Debbie and the child met Scott and his niece at a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant. Debbie heard Scott saying derogatory things to their child, and told him not to talk to the child like that. Scott then " just went nuts in the middle of Chuck E. Cheese's and said, Eff you, and, I should just effing kill you and get it over with, and, This is what I have to deal with all the time." Debbie picked up the child and left. Debbie testified he was loud and she was scared.

Debbie testified on February 12, 2014, someone attempted to break into her home. Debbie stated a window was pushed in when she opened the front door and there was trash thrown all over the driveway. She called the police. Debbie testified she is afraid of Scott and in fear of her safety. She stated she does not know of anyone ...


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