from the Iowa District Court for Clayton County, Margaret L.
defendant challenges his convictions for third-degree
burglary and first-degree theft. AFFIRMED.
C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, and Robert P. Ranschau,
Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Thomas J. Ogden, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee.
Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Doyle and Tabor, JJ.
Heins, her daughter, and her twin granddaughters often spent
Saturday nights playing bingo in Harpers Ferry. When they
returned to their Luana trailer after 10 p.m. on August 27,
2011, they discovered someone had broken in and taken their
savings. Shannon Knickerbocker knew about the family's
Saturday night bingo tradition. He also knew Heins had
recently borrowed money to finance a land purchase. But
authorities did not charge Knickerbocker until years later
when his aunt, Shawna Knickerbocker,  came forward with
information tying him to the crimes. In 2015, a jury
convicted Knickerbocker of burglary and theft, finding he
stole more than $10, 000 from the Heinses.
appeals the district court's denial of his motion
challenging the jury verdicts as contrary to the weight of
the evidence and the court's ruling Shawna was not an
accomplice to the theft as a matter of law. Because
Knickerbocker fails to show the district court abused its
discretion in denying his motion for new trial, we decline to
disturb the verdicts. As for the accomplice issue, the
district court correctly left the matter up to the jury, and
regardless of whether Shawna could have been convicted of
theft, sufficient evidence corroborates her testimony
implicating her nephew. Accordingly, we affirm.
Facts and Prior Proceedings
to keep the family farm intact but unable to obtain a bank
loan to purchase twenty acres of an eighty-acre parcel,
sixty-five-year-old Ida Heins borrowed $25, 000 from her
daughter-in-law in the spring of 2011 and another $18, 000
from her best friend later that summer. Both loans came in
the form of cash without written documentation. Heins kept
the cash in two small lockboxes in her bedroom until she was
able to finalize the land deal with her half-sister, Helen
Upton. Upton and Heins had a strained relationship, and Heins
believed Upton was making it difficult for her to buy the
daughter, Tiffany, was dating Knickerbocker in August 2011.
During that summer, Knickerbocker welcomed several people to
live at his house, including his aunt, Shawna; her boyfriend,
John Bollman; and a teenager, Cody McCarthy. Those three
associates of Knickerbocker all testified against him at the
told the jury that on August 27, 2011, her nephew was gone
for about one hour in the morning, returned home, and
"told John and Cody to put their shoes on." She
also testified Knickerbocker supplied her with hydrocodone
pills, which affected her memory. Later that day, she
received a text message from Knickerbocker saying they were
lying in a cornfield and predicting she would "be happy
when they returned." According to Shawna, her nephew
returned about four hours later carrying a duffel bag and
gave her $1000, telling her not to spend it on big things and
"to shut [her] mouth about the burglary." Shawna
did not share this information with law enforcement until
August 2013, attributing her delay to "fear, being
McCarthy testified he went along with Knickerbocker's
plan to get money from the Heins trailer. According to
McCarthy, on August 27, 2011, Bollman drove toward the
trailer in a white Dodge Intrepid; McCarthy and Knickerbocker
were passengers. They parked at a graveyard and waited until
the Heins family left for bingo. McCarthy testified:
"After we had seen them leave, we had gone into the
cornfield next to the house and went around to the
backside." Knickerbocker pried the door open with a
screwdriver, according to the teenager's testimony. Once
inside, Knickerbocker told McCarthy to search for money.
McCarthy grabbed "two five-dollar bills attached to a
couple teddy bears." Meanwhile, Knickerbocker was in the
back bedroom going through two lockboxes he pried open with
the same screwdriver he used to gain entry. According to
McCarthy, Knickerbocker dumped the contents of the lockboxes
into a duffel bag before they left the trailer. Bollman drove
them back to Knickerbocker's house. Knickerbocker gave
McCarthy $500 of the stolen cash. McCarthy did not talk to
law enforcement until 2013.
offered a similar recollection of August 27, 2011. Bollman
testified Knickerbocker left his house in the morning and
returned to say "he wanted to go for a ride." As
Bollman drove the Dodge Intrepid, Knickerbocker revealed his
plan to "get some cash" from the Heins trailer.
Bollman recalled driving "past there a few different
times" that afternoon. Bollman eventually stopped and
let Knickerbocker and McCarthy out in the cornfield at
Knickerbocker's direction. More than one hour later,
Knickerbocker called Bollman to pick them up. Knickerbocker
was carrying a duffel bag and pulled out a wad of cash to
show Bollman. Bollman testified he later helped Knickbocker
count the cash and ...