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State v. Coleman

Court of Appeals of Iowa

January 11, 2017

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
LAMONT COLEMAN, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Black Hawk County, Joseph M. Moothart (suppression) and James D. Coil (trial), District Associate Judges.

         A defendant appeals following his conviction contending the court should have granted his motion to suppress, there is insufficient evidence to support his conviction, and his counsel was ineffective. AFFIRMED.

          Jane M. White of Jane White Law Office, Des Moines, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Timothy M. Hau, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Considered by Doyle, P.J., Tabor, J., and Scott, S.J. [*]

          SCOTT, Senior Judge.

         Lamont Coleman was convicted following a jury trial of operating while intoxicated and possession of marijuana. He claims the court should have granted his motion to suppress evidence because the officer who initiated the traffic stop did not have probable cause to justify the stop. He asserts there was insufficient evidence to support the jury's guilty verdict on possession of marijuana. He also claims his counsel was ineffective in failing to subpoena a necessary defense witness or request a continuance to secure the presence of the witness. We affirm his conviction.

         I. Scope and Standard of Review.

         Our review of the district court's denial of Coleman's motion to suppress is de novo. See State v. Ruhs, 885 N.W.2d 822, 825 (Iowa Ct. App. 2016). We consider the entire record, and "[w]e give deference to the district court's fact findings due to its opportunity to assess the credibility of witnesses, but we are not bound by those findings." Id. (citation omitted). We also review de novo his claim that counsel was ineffective. See State v. Schlitter, 881 N.W.2d 380, 388 (Iowa 2016). Our review of the sufficiency of the evidence is for the correction of errors at law. Id.

         II. Motion to Suppress.

         Coleman contends the officer who initiated the stop of his vehicle did not have probable cause to justify the stop. Thus, he contends the court should have granted his motion to suppress all evidence.

         The evidence admitted at trial[1] indicates Sergeant Rob Camarata was conducting a traffic stop of another vehicle on March 29, 2014, at about 2:45 a.m., when he observed a silver Chevrolet Blazer traveling at a high rate of speed-he estimated at seventy miles per hour. As it passed him, it nearly collided with his police vehicle. He radioed to other officers a description of the vehicle and its direction. Officer Tyler Brownell heard that communication and observed a silver Blazer pass his location. After confirming with Sergeant Camarata the description of the vehicle, Officer Brownell pursued the vehicle and was able to determine by using his vehicle's radar system that the Blazer was going fifty-three miles per hour in a forty-five mile-per-hour zone. Officer Brownell radioed the speed and location information to other officers in area. Officer Josh Wessels heard that communication, located the vehicle, and initiated a traffic stop. Coleman was the driver of the Blazer.

         In denying Coleman's motion to suppress, the district court found:

[T]he investigatory stop of [Coleman's] vehicle by Officer Wessels was based on specific and articulable facts to reasonably believe that [Coleman] was exceeding the speed limit based on the report from [Sergeant] Camarata and Officer Brownell's radar reading of [fifty-three] miles per hour in a [forty-five] mile-per-hour zone. Officer Wessels could rely on ...

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