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State v. Zobel

Court of Appeals of Iowa

July 19, 2017

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
JUSTIN JAMES ZOBEL, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Cerro Gordo County, Karen Kaufman Salic, District Associate Judge.

         Justin Zobel appeals from his convictions and sentences for domestic abuse assault causing bodily injury, domestic abuse assault, third-degree burglary, and possession of marijuana.

          Mark C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, and Melinda J. Nye, Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Louis S. Sloven, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

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

          DANILSON, CHIEF JUDGE.

         Justin Zobel appeals from his convictions and sentences for domestic abuse assault causing bodily injury, a serious misdemeanor, in violation of Iowa Code section 708.2A(2)(b) (2016); domestic abuse assault, a simple misdemeanor, in violation of section 708.2A(2)(a); third-degree burglary, a class "D" felony, in violation of sections 716.1 and 716.4; and possession of marijuana, second offense, an aggravated misdemeanor, in violation of section 124.401(4)(m) and (5). Zobel contends the trial court erred in refusing to instruct the jury on the self-defense theory and alleges a number of errors during sentencing. Because we find the trial court did not err in refusing to instruct the jury on the justification defense and find no abuse of discretion or error by the sentencing court, we affirm.

         I. Background Facts & Proceedings.

         Zobel's convictions for third-degree burglary and possession of marijuana were entered pursuant to a written Alford plea. The underlying facts of those convictions are not relevant to the appeal. Zobel's domestic-abuse-assault-causing-bodily-injury and domestic-abuse-assault convictions arose from a dispute between Zobel and Katie Barnish in the early morning hours of July 4, 2015, after which Barnish ended up with a black eye. Zobel and Barnish previously dated and have a child together, "G."

         At trial, Zobel did not dispute he hit Barnish causing the black eye, but he did dispute the way in which the injury occurred. Barnish testified Zobel punched her in the face after the dispute had progressed outside the house. Barnish stated she was attempting to walk back inside the home and was holding G. when Zobel intentionally hit her. However, Zobel testified he hit Barnish in the face when she was violently trying to wake him while he was sleeping on the floor of G.'s room. Specifically, Zobel testified:

Q. And when did you wake up?
A. I woke up to being pulled on by my shorts and hit-like hit in the face, hit in the back, hit in the back of the head, and I don't know, just like I said, I can't say exactly how long it was but that's how I was woken.
. . . .
Q. And did you know what was going on?
A. No, I had no clue. I just knew I was just being hit and yelled at, screamed at.
Q. What did you do?
A. I reacted. I rolled over and threw a punch, first thing ...

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