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State v. Krutsinger

Court of Appeals of Iowa

May 3, 2017

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
JUSTIN KRUTSINGER, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Dallas County, Randy V. Hefner (motion to suppress) and Paul R. Huscher (trial), Judge.

         Defendant appeals his conviction for homicide by vehicle while intoxicated. AFFIRMED.

          Mark C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, and Robert P. Ranschau, Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Genevieve Reinkoester, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Considered by Mullins, P.J., and Bower and McDonald, JJ.

          BOWER, Judge.

         Justin Krutsinger appeals his conviction for homicide by vehicle while intoxicated. We find the district court did not err in denying Krutsinger's motion to suppress based on his claim he was denied the right to make a telephone call and there was sufficient evidence in the record on the issue of causation. We affirm Krutsinger's conviction.

         I. Background Facts & Proceedings

         On February 27, 2015, Justin Krutsinger went to the home of Keri Hanzlick in Waukee at about 5:30 p.m. Krutsinger and Hanzlick had one to two drinks before going to a restaurant for dinner, where Krutsinger had two or three bottles of beer. On the way back to Hanzlick's home, they picked up a twelve-pack of beer and a bottle of vodka. Krutsinger had a few more drinks while they watched a movie. Krutsinger fell asleep for a short time, and when he woke up, he started crying. Hanzlick testified "he thought we were being watched, kept asking why they were watching us." Krutsinger became upset and a little agitated. He gathered his belongings and left Hanzlick's house at about 11:00 p.m.

         At about midnight, Krutsinger, who was driving a Chevrolet Malibu, was involved in a collision with a Pontiac Grand Prix driven by Heidi Harkrader on Highway 6, just east of Adel. The crash data retrieval system in the Malibu showed Krutsinger was driving 116 miles per hour at the time of the collision and did not touch the brakes prior to the crash. Krutsinger drove into the back of the Grand Prix, forcing it off the road, and it eventually hit a house. There was an open can of beer in the center console of Krutsinger's vehicle and a partially full twelve-pack of beer in the backseat. Harkrader died at the scene as the result of injuries sustained in the collision.

         A registered nurse, Diana Wenger, who was the first person on the scene of the accident, testified Krutsinger had an odor of alcohol, was slurring his words, and was agitated. Officers who were assisting in the incident also testified Krutsinger had bloodshot, watery eyes, he had an odor of alcohol, and he was agitated. The paramedic and emergency medical technicians (EMT) who treated Krutsinger gave similar testimony. Krutsinger was taken by ambulance to the hospital for an assessment of his injuries. Two public safety officers from the hospital testified Krutsinger appeared to be impaired by alcohol. The emergency room physician, Dr. Richard Sidwell, testified Krutsinger was verbally aggressive and he believed Krutsinger was intoxicated. Krutsinger became so agitated at the hospital he was handcuffed to the bed for a period of time for the safety of medical personnel.

         At about 1:30 a.m., State Troopers Jody Elliott and Corey Champlin of the Iowa Department of Public Safety came to the hospital. Krutsinger was released from the handcuffs shortly thereafter. He was given a Miranda warning. Trooper Elliott asked for a preliminary breath test, and Krutsinger either asked if he needed a lawyer or stated he wanted to call a lawyer. Trooper Elliott stated Krutsinger could call a lawyer.[1] Krutsinger immediately stated he would take the preliminary breath test, so he was given the test. There was a telephone in the room, and Trooper Elliott stated, "I would have let him make any number of phone calls that he wanted to make."

         During the course of the discussion, Krutsinger stated he wanted to call a lawyer so he could leave the hospital. Trooper Elliott told Krutsinger, "You can call a lawyer, but you're not leaving." Krutsinger was informed he was being detained, and he then changed the subject and began talking about something else. Trooper Champlin read Krutsinger the implied consent advisory. Trooper Elliott asked Krutsinger if he wanted to call a friend, family member, or attorney and Krutsinger said, "No." Krutsinger was asked for a blood test; he refused but agreed to a urine test. The urine test showed Krutsinger had an alcohol level of .200, well above the legal limit of .08.

         Krutsinger was charged with homicide by vehicle while intoxicated, in violation of Iowa Code section 707.6A(1) (2015). He filed a motion to suppress, claiming he was denied his statutory right to make a telephone call, pursuant to section 804.20. The district court found, as to the first exchange, Krutsinger decided not to call an attorney but to submit to the preliminary breath test. For the second exchange, the court found Krutsinger's conduct conveyed the message he did not wish to call an attorney. For the third exchange, the court found Krutsinger affirmatively declined his right to call an attorney. The court concluded Krutsinger did not invoke his right ...

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