from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Mark J. Smith,
Overstreet appeals his conviction for child endangerment.
C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, and Maria L. Ruhtenberg,
Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Jean C. Pettinger and Tyler
J. Buller, Assistant Attorneys General, for appellee.
Considered by Potterfield, P.J., Tabor, J., and Scott, S.J.
Overstreet appeals his conviction for child endangerment,
alleging his counsel was ineffective for failing to move for
a severance of trial, there was insufficient evidence to
support the conviction, and the district court erred in
admitting hearsay testimony. We affirm.
Background Facts and Proceedings
19, 2013, Heather Davis, a child protection worker from the
Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS), went to the home of
Gloria Overstreet and her son, Ricky Overstreet, to
investigate an anonymous call received about Ricky's
daughter, T.O., in which the source reported T.O. was being
physically abused by Ricky and Gloria and was receiving
inadequate food and clothing. At the time, T.O. was eight
years old. She had lived with Ricky and Gloria since she was
three, having previously lived with her mother.
refused Davis access to her home, so Gloria, Ricky, T.O., and
Davis met in the yard. T.O. was dressed in long pants and
long sleeves that covered her neck and arms, even though the
day was unseasonably warm. Davis observed Gloria had long
fingernails. Davis asked to speak with T.O. alone, but the
request was denied. When Davis asked T.O. in front of Ricky
and Gloria how she was disciplined, T.O. said she was told to
stand in the corner or write sentences.
following day, the principal at T.O.'s school was
confronted with concerns about Gloria's treatment of T.O.
The principal had T.O. examined by the school nurse; the
nurse and principal found marks on T.O.'s body and
contacted the police. The principal testified at trial the
marks were "very concerning. Much more significant than
what [she] had seen before on other children." She
further testified T.O. would often say things regarding her
concern about the discipline at home, specifically with
regard to Gloria.
police were called to the scene, and T.O. agreed to have the
injuries photographed; these photos were entered into
evidence at trial. The responding officer testified at trial
that T.O. had "scarring and marks on either side of her
neck" and "several pattern marks, linear scars, on
her back." The officer described the marks on T.O.'s
neck as "claw marks" made by "a person, "
which were consistent with what T.O. told the officer had
happened. The officer indicated there was a pattern to the
markings on T.O.'s back that made it "very
clear" to the officer "some sort of object [was]
used, " which "matched up with what [T.O.] had
described to [the officer] [was] happening to her";
specifically, that she had been hit with a spatula. As to the
timing of the injuries, the officer stated the injuries
"were pretty extensive" with "numerous
scars" showing "different stages of scarring"
with "some more recent, some had been there a while, so
it was clear to [the officer] that this had been
was also contacted to come to the school, and she personally
observed the fingernail marks on T.O.'s neck and multiple
scratches on her back and first heard T.O. was stating Ricky
and Gloria had injured her. T.O.'s mother also observed
the markings and testified they resembled being spanked with
an object. T.O. was then placed in the care of her mother.
That same day, police officers executed a search warrant on
Gloria and Ricky's home. During the search, police
officers seized two spatulas and a spoon from the home. An
officer testified to her belief one of the objects collected
had caused the injury, although she admitted it was "for
the most part" a standard-looking spatula. Both Davis
and the officer testified Gloria told them during the search
she did not want T.O. back.
23, 2013, T.O. was examined by Dr. Barbara Harre, of the
Child Protection Response Clinic, who specializes in child
abuse pediatrics. T.O. told Dr. Harre she had multiple
injuries to her back, caused by Gloria hitting her with a
spatula. T.O. said she was hit with a spatula as discipline
from the age of six until she was eight. She also told Dr.
Harre that Ricky had struck her with the spatula as well.
T.O. identified marks on her neck, which she stated were
caused by Gloria strangling her. She stated Gloria would lift
her off the floor by the neck, sometimes until she lost
consciousness. T.O. also identified marks not caused by
Gloria or Ricky, including a bite mark on her cheek inflicted
by a cousin, a scar on her forearm she caused when she
dropped an iron on her wrist, and a birthmark on her arm. Dr.
Harre testified T.O.'s ability to identify marks and
distinguish their origin told her that T.O. "understands
that different injuries can occur in different ways, and
[T.O.'s] able to give that history."
Harre then examined T.O., observing the bite mark to her face
and marks on her back and neck. Dr. Harre testified the
markings on T.O.'s neck were consistent with
fingernail-type impressions and indicative of a pattern of
repeat behavior. Dr. Harre further testified to
"parallel lines distributed all over [T.O.'s]
back" and that these parallel lines "suggest[ed]
more of a controlled contact" making it "much more
likely that there's an object involved."
the timing of the injuries, Dr. Harre testified about a
"general rule" that skin "remodeling"-or
healing-can take up to a year. Dr. Harre stated that during
follow-up visits with T.O. she noticed "significant
resolution of the degree of injuries" to both T.O.'s
neck and back, although she was unable to identify the age of
the marks. An officer also testified to photographing
T.O.'s injuries a couple months after the initial report
was made and stated some scars had faded but distinct
cross-examination, Dr. Harre testified to additional
information T.O. provided her: that T.O. was required to wake
at 3 a.m. and perform chores-like wash dishes, vacuum the
floor, and set mouse traps-and that she was only fed bread
and water. Despite T.O.'s testimony regarding her