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State v. Sherman

Court of Appeals of Iowa

June 7, 2017

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
JODIE SHERMAN, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Pottawattamie County, Kathleen A. Kilnoski, Judge.

         A defendant appeals her conviction for murder in the second degree. AFFIRMED.

          Mark C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, and Maria L. Ruhtenberg, Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Kelli A. Huser, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., Mullins, J., and Goodhue, S.J. [*]

          GOODHUE, Senior Judge.

         Jodie Marie Sherman appeals from the trial court's refusal to grant her motion for a new trial after a bench trial finding her guilty of second-degree murder. We affirm the decision of the district court.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         On July 4, 2014, Sherman and Douglas Richt were seated in Richt's car at 3501 5th Avenue in Council Bluffs. Neighbors in the area heard them arguing, and one testified that she saw Sherman punch the driver in the jaw with a backhanded motion. Sherman emerged from the car, cursing Richt in the process. Richt moved around a little bit in the car and then got out on the driver's side, holding his neck and yelling, "That bitch stabbed me." He staggered on the steps of a nearby home and collapsed. Richt died of a stab wound to the neck.

         Sherman walked away from the car and was heard to say something about being kidnapped. John Carlson, a friend of Sherman's, was working on a car in the neighborhood and followed her as she walked down the street after the stabbing. He asked her why she did it, and she talked about being held against her will, being kidnapped, and somebody wanting to have sex with dead people. She finally told him to leave her alone. Later, a bloody knife with a twelve-inch blade was found in the car. The blood was tested and found to match Richt's. A 1.75 liter bottle labeled Peppermint Schnapps, with about two inches of clear liquid remaining, was found in the car. No tests were performed on the remaining liquid. Richt's body tested positive for amphetamines and methamphetamine.

          Council Bluffs police arrived at the scene and observed Carlson following Sherman. Officer Miranda Adams got out of her car, displayed her weapon, and asked Sherman to stop and get on the ground with her arms spread out to her sides. Sherman complied. Sherman told Adams, "He kidnapped me, " and wanted to know what she was going to do about it. Adams considered Sherman's bizarre behavior as a possible sign of intoxication, but neither she nor any other officer smelled the odor of an alcoholic beverage or performed any sobriety tests on Sherman. Another officer arrived, and Sherman was handcuffed. Before Adams could take Sherman to the station for interrogation, she slipped out of the handcuffs. Adams had to handcuff her again with a smaller set.

         Sherman was taken to the police station and interviewed approximately one hour after Richt had been stabbed. She swore at the female officers who were attempting to remove her bloodstained clothing. They were having difficulty swabbing her hands, when Sherman logically advised them it would be easier if they removed her handcuffs. Sherman wanted to know from the officers why "you guys" were not getting those 911 calls, why 911 calls were being intercepted, and what had happened to the two towers. The interrogating officer, Mark Elonich, asked whether she was "talking about NYC." She replied, "No, here in Iowa." Officer Elonich thought she was intoxicated or under the influence of something. The interrogation was recorded but ended within a few minutes when Sherman requested an attorney. Sherman was charged with first-degree murder.

          While in jail and soon after her arrest, Sherman heard voices, thought people could read her mind, and did not believe Richt was dead. Dr. Ivan Delgado, a psychiatrist, examined her and diagnosed her with schizophrenia. Dr. Cynthia Paul, a psychiatrist, examined her three times during the first fifteen days after her arrest and reviewed the videotape of Sherman's interrogation. Dr. Paul diagnosed Sherman with psychosis, not otherwise specified, which she described as a thought disorder characterized by prominent delusions and hallucinations. Sherman was found not to be competent to stand trial. She was sent to Oakdale for restoration of her competency by an order entered October 7, 2014. On November 22, 2014, a ...

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