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State v. Rose

Court of Appeals of Iowa

June 7, 2017

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
MARCEL ROSE, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Black Hawk County, Andrea J. Dryer, Judge.

         Defendant appeals the trial court's ruling admitting testimony related to the defendant's alleged prior bad act of domestic violence.

          Jessica A. Millage of Millage Law Firm, P.C., Des Moines, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Timothy M. Hau, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Considered by Danilson, C.J., Potterfield, J., and Blane, S.J. [*]

          POTTERFIELD, Judge.

         Marcel Rose appeals the district court's decision to admit testimony related to an alleged prior act of domestic abuse. Because the testimony is relevant to the intent element of the crime and the defendant's defenses, the prior act is supported by clear proof, and the prejudicial effect does not substantially outweigh the probative value, we affirm.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

         Marcel Rose and Amanda Guzzle resided together and were involved in a romantic relationship. Rose and Guzzle knew a mutual acquaintance, Sarah Medina. On July 6, 2015, Rose and Guzzle were alone at Medina's residence in the living room when they began to argue. The argument then turned physical, and according to Guzzle's testimony, she ended up on the couch with Rose on top of her. Guzzle covered her face because she did not want Rose to hit her, and she subsequently "felt [her] ribs crack." Even after Guzzle felt the blow to her ribs, Rose remained on top of her, and she struggled to breathe. Guzzle did not alert authorities or seek medical attention. The pain in her chest and shortness of breath continued for at least the next twenty-four hours.

         The following day, Rose called 911 and claimed Guzzle assaulted him. Authorities were sent to the location, but Rose had left by the time they arrived. Guzzle was still at the scene. Guzzle told police she was suffering from pain and shortness of breath. She was then taken to the hospital where medical personnel confirmed Guzzle had five broken ribs and a punctured lung. She eventually told the police that Rose caused the injuries.

         On July 16, 2015, the State charged Rose by trial information with one count of assault causing serious injury and one count of domestic abuse assault causing injury, pursuant to Iowa Code sections 708.2(4)[1] and 708.2A(3)(b)[2](2015), respectively. The State and Rose filed motions in limine to exclude certain evidence. The State sought to exclude, in part, evidence related to Guzzle's methamphetamine use. The defendant's motion in limine was centered on testimony related to an alleged prior domestic assault of Guzzle by Rose. Guzzle claimed that a few days before she was struck in the ribs, Rose approached her and punched her in the face at her friend's house. She also stated Rose "kicked all my stuff all over, broke my sunglasses, stomped on them, then made me sit down and wait for him." Guzzle stated she did not call the police after the incident.

         The court held a hearing on the matter, and the State made an offer of proof of Guzzle's testimony about the event. The court ruled testimony related to the alleged assault was admissible. The court determined the testimony elicited in the offer of proof was sufficient to establish clear proof of the incident because it was "fairly clear and specific, " and the evidence is "relevant to how the relationship between the parties affects their credibility." The court went on to exclude testimony about more general accusations of prior domestic abuse because "[t]here was not clear evidence offered."

         At trial, Rose generally denied the charges. He claimed another individual caused Guzzle's injuries during a fight between Rose and the other person. In the alternative, he suggested Guzzle's erratic behavior as a methamphetamine user caused the injuries. He also attacked the credibility of Guzzle's testimony, arguing her statements were inconsistent

         The jury found Rose guilty of assault causing bodily injury-a lesser-included offense of count one-and count two, domestic ...


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