from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Mary Pat
defendant challenges his judgment and sentence for possession
of marijuana with intent to deliver. AFFIRMED.
Christine E. Branstad of Branstad Law, P.L.L.C., Des Moines,
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Kelli Huser, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee.
Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Tabor and Mullins, JJ.
Steele pleaded guilty to possession of marijuana with intent
to deliver in return for the State's dismissal of a
similar offense involving crack cocaine. Several days later,
Steele wrote the judge a letter asking to withdraw his guilty
plea. Treating his request as a motion in arrest of judgment,
the district court took testimony from Steele. The district
court did not find Steele's testimony credible when
compared with his statements at the plea hearing and denied
his motion in arrest of judgment. On appeal, Steele contends
the district court abused its discretion in denying his
motion because (1) his guilty plea was not knowing,
voluntary, and intelligent and (2) the plea lacked a factual
basis as to his intent to deliver. Because the district court
properly exercised its discretion in rejecting Steele's
request to withdraw his guilty plea, we affirm.
Facts and Prior Proceedings
to the minutes of evidence, on New Year's Eve of 2015,
Des Moines police officer Emily Shoff-Salsbery saw the Toyota
Camry driven by Steele turn without signaling. As the officer
closed in on the Camry, Steele made several abrupt turns.
Steele then sped through a residential neighborhood. Before
Shoff-Salsbery could activate her lights, Steele drove down a
dead-end street, stopped the car, and fled on foot.
Steele's female passenger also left the Camry but obeyed
the officer's command to stop. The passenger told
Shoff-Salsbery she just met Steele when he offered her a ride
home after she had an argument with her boyfriend. The
passenger did not know why Steele fled and only had her purse
and "some potato chips" inside the car. In her
investigation, Shoff-Salsbery learned the Camry driven by
Steele was a rental car and the passenger had not rented it.
When the officer approached the car, she smelled an odor of
marijuana coming from the driver's side, and behind the
driver's seat, she found a brown jacket containing a
plastic bag of marijuana.
another officer chased Steele by following his tracks in the
fresh snow for about four blocks. The footprints led to a
parking lot, where the officer heard Steele talking on his
phone, asking for a ride. The officer called to Steele, who
again took off. Two officers pursued Steele until they found
him walking on a busy street. The officers ordered Steele
"to drop what was in his hand, " and Steele
"threw the items to the side and stopped and slowly went
to the ground." After arresting Steele, the officers saw
the tossed items included "several baggies including a
quantity of marijuana and a quantity . . . of cocaine base
'crack, ' as well as a car key" to the Camry
abandoned by Steele.
affidavit accompanying the complaint, Officer Shoff-Salsbery
stated Steele ran from the car but was caught a short
distance later. The affidavit continued: "Inside the
vehicle officers found a larger plastic bag that also
contained marijuana . . . . [Steele] was also found with $767
in various bills on his person, both the packaging of the
narcotics and the amount of cash are consistent with the sale
February 2016 lab report showed Steele possessed 7.23 grams
of cocaine. Important to this appeal, the lab report divided
the marijuana into two listed items: the first item weighed
10.43 grams and the second item weighed 4.01 grams (divided
into two subparts weighing 1.42 and 2.59 grams). Steele
contends, logically, the first item was the "larger
plastic bag" of marijuana found inside the car and the
smaller item was the marijuana he tossed on the ground. The
State does not dispute this contention but asserts the record
supports Steele's possession of both the marijuana tossed
on the ground and the marijuana left inside the jacket in the
to the minutes, the State expected Shoff-Salsbery, along with
the officers who chased Steele, to testify:
[T]he items found in connection with [Steele] in this case
are consistent with those items found in the possession of
drug dealers. [They] will further testify that the amount of
cocaine base "crack" and marijuana recovered in
this case, the manner in which it was packaged, the other
facts and circumstances, . . . are consistent with possession
of [both such drugs] for ...