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State v. Garrison

Court of Appeals of Iowa

May 17, 2017

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
JERON LAVELL GARRISON, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Black Hawk County, Bradley J. Harris, Judge.

         A defendant appeals his conviction for willful injury causing serious injury, challenging an evidentiary ruling.

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

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Bridget A. Chambers, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Doyle and Tabor, JJ.

          TABOR, JUDGE.

         Jeron Garrison challenges his conviction, following a bench trial, for willful injury causing serious injury, in violation of Iowa Code section 708.4(1) (2015). On appeal, Garrison raises one issue, contending the district court improperly allowed the State to play thirty seconds of a witness's videotaped interview with police under the hearsay exception for recorded recollections. See Iowa R. Evid. 5.803(5). Because we find any error in publishing those brief statements to the court to be harmless in the context of the entire trial, we affirm Garrison's conviction.

         I. Facts and Prior Proceedings

         Just before 2:00 a.m. on December 10, 2015, Jacob Duhrkopf was stabbed in the parking lot of an apartment complex near a Perkins restaurant in Waterloo. Police arrested Garrison for the crime, and on March 15, 2016, the case proceeded to trial. The court heard testimony from Duhrkopf, as well as two other witnesses, Ryan Butts and Heather Gerstenkorn. The court also viewed surveillance footage of the incident and a videotaped interview of Garrison during which he admitted having an altercation with Duhrkopf but denied stabbing him.

         Duhrkopf, Butts, and Gerstenkorn were generally consistent in their descriptions of the events leading up to Duhrkopf's injury. Duhrkopf was sitting in his car in the parking lot of an apartment complex when he saw Butts, an acquaintance, walking toward another vehicle. Duhrkopf called out to Butts, which attracted the attention of the other vehicle's passengers, Gerstenkorn and Garrison. Gerstenkorn approached Duhrkopf's car, followed by Garrison, who started talking to Duhrkopf. Butts eventually followed. The conversation between Duhrkopf and Garrison became heated as Garrison "kept bringing up" money Duhrkopf owed to Butts. In response, Duhrkopf "jumped out of [his] car" and pushed Garrison to the ground. Then, according to Duhrkopf, Garrison stabbed him, wiped the knife blade on a pant leg, and left with Gerstenkorn and Butts. Gerstenkorn and Butts denied seeing Garrison stab Duhrkopf.

         Garrison's challenge on appeal arises out of Gerstenkorn's testimony. At trial, Gerstenkorn expressed difficulty remembering what happened in those early morning hours. She explained she had been drinking and likely using other illegal drugs. She also told the court she had a "bad short-term memory" due to a car accident in her youth.

         But Gerstenkorn was able to provide a general account to the court. She explained that she walked away from Duhrkopf's vehicle before any physical confrontation occurred between Garrison and Duhrkopf. She stated: "I think they said, one of the two, either [Garrison or Butts], said 'You're not going to want to see this . . . so just go get in the car.'" She remembered looking back as she left the area but was unable to recall exactly what she saw; "I can't remember clearly so maybe I thought they were like going to fight, taking off his coat or something."

         When the prosecutor asked whether she saw any injuries or blood on Duhrkopf, Gerstenkorn responded "I'm really not sure. It was just so far across the parking lot. . . . I probably couldn't see him that well." The prosecutor then asked Gerstenkorn if she recalled watching a video recording, just before testifying, of the interview she had given to the police within hours of the incident. ...


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