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State v. Wilson

Court of Appeals of Iowa

March 8, 2017

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
MATTHEW L. WILSON, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Washington County, Myron L. Gookin, Judge.

         Matthew Wilson appeals from the judgment and sentence following a jury verdict finding him guilty of sexual abuse in the second degree. AFFIRMED.

          Mark C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, and Shellie L. Knipfer, Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Linda J. Hines, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Considered by Danilson, C.J., Vaitheswaran, J., and Goodhue, S.J. [*]

          GOODHUE, Senior Judge.

         Matthew Levi Wilson appeals from the judgment and sentence following a jury verdict finding him guilty of sexual abuse in the second degree.

         I. Background Facts and Circumstances

         Wilson's daughter, M.W., reported that when she was eight years old and traveling in Wilson's van, he asked her, "Do you want to stop somewhere and have it." Thereafter, Wilson stopped the van on a side road and told her to get in the back bench of the van. Wilson followed her, unzipped his shorts, exposed his penis, had her put her hand on it, and told her to shake it like a bottle. M.W. observed "white stuff" come from Wilson's penis. When a black truck drove by the van, Wilson told M.W. they should leave. Wilson retrieved a sock from the van, cleaned himself up with it, and threw it out the window. Wilson asked her not to tell anyone. However, when she was questioned on September 15, 2015, by Amanda Seymour, a Department of Human Services worker, M.W. gave a rendition of the above events. Seymour contacted Washington County Deputy Chad Ellis, and an investigation began.

         On October 8, Seymour and Ellis conducted an interview of Wilson at his father's home, where Wilson was living. It is the nature of that interview with Wilson, conducted by Ellis, that is an issue in this appeal. Wilson's father was asked to leave the room prior to conducting the interview. Ellis, who was dressed in street clothes, had a badge on his belt and a firearm on his right side. Wilson had had prior contact with Ellis as a law enforcement officer.

         Ellis and Wilson first discussed Wilson's family concerns and the extra burdens that had been placed on him because of his wife's illness. Ellis falsely represented to Wilson a witness who had driven by could identify Wilson. Ellis questioned Wilson by conveying an attitude of empathy and concern, saying such things as, "We're just trying to understand, " and that he and Seymour wanted "to get help" and "understand why it happened." Ellis continued by saying they understood that "[t]hings happen, man. We get it, " and he asked [Wilson] to "[t]ell us why. Why you stopped." Wilson insisted there was nothing to say. Ellis continued expressing empathy and stating the family needed closure, that he and Seymour were trying to get help for those that needed it, and that it was for the family's good. Ellis suggested that counseling and therapy were available. Ellis stated that he knew Wilson was sad that it happened, that they could remove the weight off of Wilson's shoulders, and that what had happened had to be bugging Wilson. After continuing to go through a narration of what Ellis thought had happened, Ellis would express empathy by saying, "You are sad and wished this hadn't happened." Ellis then asked Wilson if he left the driver seat when he parked the van, and after a period of silence, Wilson said they sat in the third seat of the van. Finally, Wilson said M.W. touched him on the penis. Ellis asked Wilson if she had been shaking it like a pop bottle, and Wilson apparently responded affirmatively. Ellis followed by asking, "So you had an erection?" and asking whether he ejaculated. Wilson again responded affirmatively. At that point, Ellis believed he had probable cause to make an arrest and read Wilson his rights.

         Wilson filed a motion to suppress the confession made at the interview, alleging that Ellis induced his confession with promises of leniency. The motion was overruled, and the denial of the motion is the focus of Wilson's appeal.

         II. Error Preservation

         Adverse rulings on motions to suppress preserve error for appellate review. State v. Breuer, 5 ...


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