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State v. Tronca

Court of Appeals of Iowa

June 21, 2017

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
ANTHONY ALBERT TRONCA, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Black Hawk County, Todd A. Geer, Judge.

         Defendant appeals his conviction for murder in the first degree. AFFIRMED.

          Mark C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, and Martha J. Lucey, Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.

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

          Heard by Danilson, C.J., and Potterfield and Bower, JJ.

          BOWER, Judge.

         Anthony Tronca appeals his conviction for murder in the first degree. We find the district court did not err in denying Tronca's motion to suppress. Also, Tronca has not shown the police department lacked reasonable standardized procedures for the impoundment of the car and the impoundment was for the purpose of investigating criminal activity, so the impoundment is not unconstitutional. Additionally, Tronca has not shown he received ineffective assistance due to defense counsel's failure to raise a claim under the Iowa Constitution there had been an improper pretextual stop. We preserve for possible postconviction proceedings Tronca's claim of ineffective assistance due to the failure to challenge the seizure of his business building. We affirm Tronca's conviction for first-degree murder.

         I. Background Facts & Proceedings

         On September 9, 2014, Waterloo police officers received a missing person report for Ronald Randall. The officers were aware Randall was friends with Curtis Radamacher and Radamacher was often present at AJT Auto, an auto body shop owned by Tronca. There was also information methamphetamine was being distributed from the business and Tronca owned firearms. Additionally, officers received information Randall was last seen at AJT Auto and there had been a shooting at the business.

         Officers went to AJT Auto in an attempt to locate Radamacher. In addition to wanting to talk to Radamacher about the missing person case, there was a warrant for Radamacher's arrest for probation violations. Tronca came to the door and told the officers he did not know Radamacher. The officers said they were not concerned about what was going on at the business, "so anything beyond a dead body, we're not concerned about." Tronca responded, "[T]hat's why I'm not going to let you in here." The officers left without contacting Radamacher.

         On September 11, 2014, Elvis Medrano, who was cooperating with the police, told Officer Jeffrey Zubak that Radamacher would be present at a specific address. Officers set up surveillance at the home. They observed Radamacher and Tronca come out of the house. Tronca put a dark-colored bag into the trunk of an Oldsmobile Alero, and then he drove away in the vehicle with Radamacher as a passenger.

         The officers decided to stop the vehicle, knowing there was an arrest warrant for Radamacher. A marked police car behind the Alero activated its lights, but the Alero did not stop right away. Officer Joseph Saunders saw movement in the vehicle and thought the occupants were "possibly trying to hide something." When the vehicle was stopped, Radamacher had a backpack between his feet, which he threw into the backseat. Radamacher was not compliant with officers' requests and was arrested for probation violations and interference with official acts. He was transported to the police station.[1]

         The officers determined the Alero was registered to Tronca's wife, Jennifer Tronca. The officers discovered Tronca's driver's license had been suspended, and he was arrested for driving while license suspended. Tronca was also transported to the police station. He did not ask for anyone else to pick up the

          Alero. Officer Jeffrey Tyler determined the vehicle should be towed to the impound lot. He stated this was based partially on the traffic stop, but also because officers wanted to look further into the missing person case. Officer Tyler stated there was no one to drive the vehicle from the scene because both the driver and passenger had been arrested.

         A police dog sniffed around the vehicle at the impound lot and alerted to narcotics. Officers obtained a search warrant for the vehicle. They found methamphetamine, a .380 Lorcin handgun, and ammunition for a .45 firearm.[2]

         Radamacher later told officers he, Tronca, and Randall had been smoking methamphetamine on September 2, 2014, in a room at AJT Auto used to paint vehicles, when Tronca asked Randall if Randall had sex with Tronca's girlfriend, Jessica Ogden. Tronca did not wait for a response before Tronca shot Randall three to five times. Valerie Vandervort was present in the building and heard the shots. Radamacher told her Tronca shot Randall. Tronca told Ogden what he had done. Radamacher and Ogden helped Tronca remove the body, cover it with plastic, and dump it in a remote location. Tronca had the paint ...


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