from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Paul L. Macek,
defendant appeals his conviction. AFFIRMED.
C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, and Nan Jennisch,
Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Louis S. Sloven, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee.
Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Tabor and Mullins, JJ.
Cooke appeals his convictions for willful injury causing
serious injury, in violation of Iowa Code section 708.4(1)
(2013), and domestic abuse assault with intent or while
displaying a dangerous weapon, in violation of Iowa Code
section 708.2A(2)(c). Cooke asserts the district court erred
in denying his counsel's motion to withdraw and in
admitting evidence regarding the victim's car. Because we
conclude the district court did not abuse its discretion on
either claim, we affirm.
Background Facts and Proceedings
January 23, 2015, Cooke met up with his former fiancé,
Haley Ploog, in order to give her belongings intended for
their son. After picking up the items from Cooke's
apartment, the two drove around for a short time, then parked
on a residential street and talked. Initially, the
conversation was calm, but the two eventually began arguing
about various personal matters. Ploog testified that Cooke
got "madder and madder" as the conversation went
on. She further stated that he pulled out a small
"X-Acto" knife and threatened to kill her. While
attempting to get out of the car, Cooke grabbed her by the
waist and tried to stop her. Ploog, falling to the ground,
felt Cooke's hand on her face; then, as blood began
running down her face, she knew she had been cut. Cooke
jumped out of the car and stood over Ploog.
then, Jacob Sanders and Katherine Polz drove by, noticed the
struggle, and stopped. Sanders asked if Ploog was okay; Cooke
told them to "leave her alone, we're fine, "
but hearing Ploog's pleas, the two stayed to give
assistance. Cooke fled the immediate scene, but Ploog saw him
standing nearby. She retrieved her purse from her car but
left the engine running. Sanders and Polz helped Ploog dial
911 and drove her to the hospital; she was eventually
transported to the University of Iowa Hospital in Iowa City,
where she underwent plastic surgery due to the depth of the
laceration on her face.
car went missing that night. Three weeks later, it was
recovered by police outside Cooke's apartment. When the
car was returned to her, Ploog identified several items she
knew belonged to Cooke inside the car. A piece of mail
addressed to Cooke was also located inside the vehicle.
March 19, the State charged Cooke with willful injury causing
serious injury and domestic abuse assault. Trial was set for
June 1 with the speedy trial date set to run on June 17. On
May 22, Cooke's counsel filed a motion to withdraw
claiming Cooke had refused to see him on multiple occasions
and had refused to cooperate in preparation for trial. A
pretrial conference was held on May 27, where the issue was
initially discussed but not fully submitted. At the start of
trial on June 1, the district court heard additional argument
detailing Cooke's troubled relationship with his counsel
and the difficulties of assigning new counsel because of
speedy trial requirements. Cooke also filed a motion in
limine that sought to preclude the State from introducing
evidence regarding Cooke's possession of Ploog's car.
The district court allowed the State to present evidence
regarding the vehicle so long as the evidence did not imply
the vehicle was stolen. Following trial, a jury convicted
Cooke of both counts. Cooke filed a motion for a new trial,
which the district court denied. Cooke appeals.
Standard of Review
review a district court's decision regarding
counsel's motion to withdraw for an abuse of discretion.
State v. Brooks, 540 N.W.2d 270, 272 (Iowa 1995). We
also review evidentiary rulings for abuse ...