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State v. Nelson

Court of Appeals of Iowa

May 3, 2017

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
EARL LEONARD NELSON JR., Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, David N. May, Judge.

         Earl Nelson Jr. appeals his convictions for burglary in the third degree and possession of burglar's tools. AFFIRMED.

          Mark C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, and Brenda J. Gohr, Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Martha E. Trout, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., Tabor, J., and Mahan, S.J. [*]

          MAHAN, Senior Judge.

         Earl Nelson Jr. appeals his convictions for burglary in the third degree and possession of burglar's tools, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence to support the jury's findings of guilt and claiming the district court failed to state sufficient reasons for the sentence imposed.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         The State charged Nelson with burglary in the third degree, as an habitual offender, and possession of burglar's tools, following a burglary of an Ankeny Best Buy storage unit. See Iowa Code §§ 713.1, 713.6A(1), 713.7, 902.9(1)(c) (2015). Nelson pled not guilty, and the case proceeded to trial. The jury found Nelson guilty on both counts, Nelson stipulated to two prior felony convictions to establish his status as an habitual offender, and the district court entered judgment and imposed sentences. Nelson appeals. Facts specific to his claims will be set forth below.

         II. Standards of Review

         We review challenges to the sufficiency of the evidence for correction of errors at law. State v. Howse, 875 N.W.2d 684, 688 (Iowa 2016). "In reviewing challenges to the sufficiency of evidence supporting a guilty verdict, courts consider all of the record evidence viewed in the light most favorable to the State, including all reasonable inferences that may be fairly drawn from the evidence." State v. Showens, 845 N.W.2d 436, 439-40 (Iowa 2014) (citation omitted). The jury's verdict is binding on appeal unless there is an absence of substantial evidence in the record to sustain it. State v. Leckington, 713 N.W.2d 208, 213 (Iowa 2006). Evidence is substantial if it would convince a rational trier of fact the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. See Howse, 875 N.W.2d at 688.

         We review Nelson's claim that the district court failed to state sufficient reasons for the sentences imposed for an abuse of discretion. See State v. Thacker, 862 N.W.2d 402, 405 (Iowa 2015).

         III. Sufficiency ...


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