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State v. Thompson

Court of Appeals of Iowa

May 3, 2017

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
JERRY LEON THOMPSON, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Jeffrey D. Farrell, Judge.

         A defendant challenges his conviction.

          Jerry L. Thompson, pro se, for appellant.

          Molly E. Alley of Oliver Gravett Law Firm, P.C., Windsor Heights, for appellant (until withdrawal).

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Tyler J. Buller, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

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

          VOGEL, Judge.

         Jerry Thompson appeals his conviction for child endangerment resulting in bodily injury, in violation of Iowa Code section 726.6(6) (2015).[1] Specifically, Thompson claims the district court erred by not granting his motion for a judgment of acquittal because there was insufficient evidence to support the conviction. Thompson also asserts his counsel was ineffective in failing to request a jury instruction that defined "unreasonable force." Because we conclude there was sufficient evidence to support the verdict, we affirm Thompson's conviction. However, because the factual record relevant to Thompson's claim of ineffective assistance of counsel is not fully developed, we preserve that claim for a postconviction action.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         On July 9, 2015, the State charged Thompson with one count of child endangerment resulting in bodily injury. The charge stemmed from an incident in which Thompson used a belt to strike his thirteen-year-old daughter multiple times. At trial, the victim testified she and her older sister were staying at Thompson's house for a regularly-scheduled weekend visitation on May 16, 2015. At some point, the victim and Thompson had a disagreement, and in an apparent attempt to discipline or control his daughter, Thompson entered her room with a belt and struck her with it several times across the legs. The victim's sister was sleeping in the room when the incident occurred and testified that she woke up while Thompson was striking the victim. According to the victim, the belt strikes left visible red marks and bruises on the her legs for several days. The district court denied Thompson's motion for judgement of acquittal.

         Thompson generally admitted the substance of the allegations. His defense at trial was that his actions were appropriate parental discipline under the circumstances and the force he used was reasonable. He testified he initially brought the belt into the room as a deterrent and he did not strike the victim with full force. He continued:

Q. Okay. And so you said you were using the belt to try to stop her from kicking you?
A. Well, I really-the thing is, she is stronger than what she looks like. I really couldn't get it-I couldn't really get in any good whacks. It was just-to me, I know my strength, and my daughter is my daughter, so I'm not going in with the intention of trying to kill my daughter. And I ...

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