from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Jeffrey D.
appeals from his convictions for murder in the first degree,
robbery in the first degree, and assault with intent to
commit serious injury.
C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, and Maria L. Ruhtenberg,
Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Tyler J. Buller, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee.
Considered by Potterfield, P.J., Tabor, J., and Goodhue, S.J.
GOODHUE, Senior Judge.
Makuey appeals from his conviction of murder in the first
degree, robbery in the first degree, and assault with intent
to commit serious injury and the sentences imposed following
a bench trial. We affirm Makuey's convictions and
Facts and Proceedings
and Harriet Anderson, residents of Des Moines, had an
animal-boarding business operated by their grandson that was
adjacent to their home. Ruppert was ninety-seven years old
and Harriet was ninety-two on July 2, 2014, when they
received a knock at their door. Harriet assumed someone was
wanting to pick up an animal and opened the door. She
observed a young man and told him the kennel was closed, but
the man, later identified as Ngor Makuey, pushed her aside
and entered the residence. He hit Ruppert twice on the head
with an instrument he held in his hand, later determined to
be a metal spatula. He then hit Harriet with the spatula and
knocked her down. Harriet was able to retrieve a telephone by
pulling on the cord and called 911.
police arrived, and a young man wearing a gray hooded
sweatshirt was observed outside the Anderson home but near
its entry door. When questioned by an officer, he advised he
was picking up a dog. Two more officers soon arrived, and a
cameraman from the television show COPS was traveling with
them. The cameraman was operating his camera when he arrived
at the house. By coincidence, the video reflected the young
man who had been near the house. Both Harriet and Ruppert
were taken to the hospital where Harriet was stitched up and
eventually released, but Ruppert died. The medical examiner
determined Ruppert died from a blunt force trauma to the
of the video, Makuey was identified as the young man near the
Anderson home. A blood-stained spatula, sweatshirt, and
shorts were retrieved from Makuey's residence, and the
blood stains matched Harriet's blood type. Pieces of
wood, which were identified as the handle to the spatula,
were recovered at the Anderson home. It was discovered that a
jewelry box Harriet kept on a dresser had been removed and
opened, but nothing had been taken.
was arrested and charged with murder in the first degree,
attempted murder, robbery in the first degree, and burglary
in the first degree. Makuey waived his right to a jury trial
and was tried to the court. Makuey put forth a defense of
insanity, and his expert witness, Dr. Lewis Rosell, diagnosed
Makuey as suffering schizophrenic spectrum and other
psychotic disorders and further testified that Makuey was not
able to distinguish right from wrong or control his behavior
on the date of the incident. The State called Dr. Tim
Kockler, who reviewed Dr. Rosell's report and criticized
his conclusions in several respects. The State also called
Dr. Michael Taylor, who diagnosed Makuey as having a
psychotic disorder but nevertheless stated that, on the date
in question, Makuey was able to act with specific intent, was
able to understand the nature and quality of his act, and had
the ability to distinguish between right and wrong.
the bench trial, the court did not accept the insanity
defense and found Makuey guilty of murder in the first
degree, assault with intent to commit serious injury as a
lesser included offense of attempted murder, robbery in the
first degree, and burglary in the first degree. The court did
not find Makuey guilty of attempted murder but instead the
lesser-included offense because it did not find Makuey
intended to kill anyone. The guilty verdict of murder in the
first degree was based on the felony-murder rule. Makuey was
sentenced to life in prison on the murder conviction, two
years on the assault with intent to commit serious injury,
and twenty-five year terms each for robbery in the first
degree and burglary in the second degree. All of the
sentences were to run concurrently except the assault charge,
which was made to run consecutive to the other offenses.
Makuey has appealed, claiming the sentences imposed
constituted cruel and unusual punishment prohibited by the
Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution and
article 1 section 17 of the Iowa Constitution.