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State v. Ward

Court of Appeals of Iowa

April 5, 2017

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
RODERICK WARD, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Black Hawk County, Joel A. Dalrymple, Judge.

         Roderick Ward appeals from his conviction following jury trial for second-degree murder. AFFIRMED.

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

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Kyle Hanson, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Vogel and Vaitheswaran, JJ.

          DANILSON, Chief Judge.

         Roderick Ward appeals from his conviction following jury trial for second-degree murder in violation of Iowa Code section 707.3 (2014). Ward contends the district court abused its discretion in allowing testimony by a jailhouse informant and a shotgun demonstration at trial. Because we find the district court did not abuse its discretion, we affirm.

         I. Background Facts & Proceedings.

         On August 1, 2014, Ward and his girlfriend, Katelyn Randall, invited people to their home for a gathering. The decedent, Gary Wilson; Ward's uncle, Reggie Taylor; and Taylor's wife were in attendance along with a number of other individuals. Wilson arrived at Ward's home in the afternoon, and Ward and Wilson were drinking alcoholic beverages throughout the day. The gathering continued through the evening and night. Ward and Wilson continued drinking. Wilson began acting obnoxious and aggressive, attempting to pick fights. Wilson did not get physical with anyone but his behavior began to anger Ward.

         After most of the people had gone-only Ward, Wilson, Randall, Taylor, and Taylor's wife remained-Wilson's behavior continued and Ward became more angry. Ward raised his voice at Wilson and told him to leave. Ward held a shotgun as Ward and Wilson continued exchanging words.

         Randall testified she saw Wilson in the street in front of the house and Ward holding the shotgun and moving toward Wilson. Randall stated she turned to go inside because she "didn't want to see it if something were to happen." As Randall reached the front door, she heard gunshots. Randall turned to see Wilson and Ward both lying in the street. She believed Ward had fallen down.

         Taylor was also outside at the time. Taylor testified he was searching for a cigarette inside his truck when he heard the gunshots and ducked for cover. When he looked up, Taylor saw Wilson lying in the street. Taylor also saw Ward running from the scene.

         Randall stated after she heard the gunshots she went inside to check on her children. Randall testified she saw Ward come into the house, retrieve a Denver Broncos blanket from the living room, leave the house, and retreat down the street.

         Police and paramedics arrived on the scene and made lifesaving efforts, but Wilson did not survive his injuries. Police located five empty 12-gauge shotgun shells and a cell phone in the street near Wilson. The medical examiner testified Wilson sustained three gunshot wounds-one to the left forearm and two to the abdomen. The medical examiner stated the wounds were caused by a shotgun that was likely fired at fairly close range.

         Ward was not at the house when police arrived, but later approached the line of police tape securing the scene. Officers detained Ward for questioning. The cell phone discovered in the street rang when officers called the number Ward provided during the interview. Bloodstains found on the pants Ward was wearing at the time he was detained matched Wilson's DNA.

         The next morning a man walking along the street near Ward's house found a 12-gauge pump-action shotgun wrapped in a Denver Broncos blanket hidden in some bushes and alerted police. DNA testing confirmed several spots of blood on the shotgun matched Wilson.

         On September 8, 2014, Ward was charged by trial information with first-degree murder in violation of Iowa Code section 707.2(1)(a). Before trial, Ward spoke to Trevino Fox, another inmate in jail. At the jury trial beginning October 20, 2015, Fox testified Ward told Fox he shot Wilson with a "shotgun pump." Over defense ...


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