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Williams v. State

Court of Appeals of Iowa

April 5, 2017

JAMES WILLIAMS, Applicant-Appellant,
v.
STATE OF IOWA, Respondent-Appellee.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Black Hawk County, George L. Stigler, Judge.

         Applicant appeals the district court decision denying his application for postconviction relief. AFFIRMED.

          John W. Hofmeyer III, Oelwein, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Bridget A. Chambers, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Considered by Mullins, P.J., Bower, J., and Blane, S.J. [*]

          BOWER, Judge.

         James Williams appeals the district court decision denying his application for postconviction relief from his convictions of assault while participating in a felony, possession of a firearm as a felon, and two counts of first-degree robbery. We find Williams has not shown he received ineffective assistance due to counsel's decision to sever Williams's case from that of a codefendant or counsel's advice to plead guilty to a charge of eluding. We affirm the decision of the district court.

         I. Background Facts & Proceedings

         On June 11, 2008, at about 1:00 p.m., two armed men robbed the Clark-Prime Mart in Waterloo. The men left in a black SUV. There was evidence Williams went into the convenience store and then left shortly before the robbery, which the State argued showed he had been casing the location.

         Later on the same day, at about 5:15 p.m., an armed man robbed a Dollar General Store. When he left the store, the man got into the passenger side of a black SUV. After receiving a dispatch about the robbery, an officer, who was nearby, noticed a black SUV and followed it. The SUV did not stop after the officer activated his lights and siren, but it sped up and drove through several stop signs. Eventually, the vehicle crashed into the porch of a house. Williams was found hiding in a closet of a nearby house, although the homeowner was not aware he was there. Williams told an officer he had been driving the black SUV when it left the Dollar General Store. Officers also arrested Antonio Dantzler, who was also found near the scene of the crashed SUV. Items relating to the two robberies were found in the vehicle.

          In case FECR154618, Williams and Dantzler were charged with first-degree robbery, assault while participating in a felony, and possession of a firearm as a felon. Williams additionally was charged with eluding, operating a motor vehicle while his license was barred, and operating a motor vehicle while his license was revoked. These charges arose from the robbery of the Dollar General Store. In case FECR156357, Williams and Dantzler were charged with first-degree robbery of the Clark-Prime Mart convenience store.

         Prior to trial, the court granted the State's motion for a joint trial in FECR154618 and FECR156357. In addition, defense counsel filed a motion to sever Williams's trial from that of Dantzler. Dantlzer also filed a motion seeking to sever his trial from Williams's trial. The district court granted the motions to sever.

         During the course of the trial, Williams pled guilty to eluding, operating while barred, and operating while revoked. A jury found him guilty of two counts of first-degree robbery, in violation of Iowa Code section 711.2 (2007); assault while participating in a felony, in violation of section 708.3; and possession of a firearm as a felon, in violation of section 724.6. Williams filed a motion for a new trial. He presented a letter purportedly from Dantzler stating Dantzler wanted to testify for Williams at Williams's trial, but Dantzler's attorney would not let him. The court denied the motion for new trial.

         During sentencing, the court determined Williams's sentence for assault while participating in a felony should be merged with his sentence on one of the counts of first-degree robbery. The court concluded the sentences on the two first-degree robbery convictions should be served consecutively and the sentences on the other convictions were concurrent to those sentences. Williams's convictions on assault while participating in a felony, possession of a firearm as a felon, and two counts ...


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