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State v. Lawless

Court of Appeals of Iowa

August 2, 2017

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
DONAREASE LAWLESS, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Mark J. Smith, Judge.

         Donarease Lawless appeals the judgment entered and sentence imposed following his convictions of possession of a firearm by a felon and assault with a dangerous weapon.

          Mark C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, and Shellie L. Knipfer, Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Tyler J. Buller, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Doyle and Bower, JJ.

          DOYLE, Judge.

         Donarease Lawless appeals the judgment entered and sentence imposed following his convictions of possession of a firearm by a felon and assault with a dangerous weapon. His claim the trial court erred in admitting certain evidence is not properly before us on appeal. Furthermore, Lawless has failed to show a probability the outcome of trial would have been different had counsel objected to the admission of other-bad-acts evidence. Accordingly, we affirm.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

         On April 20, 2016, Lawless went to the home of Linda Bailey in an attempt to locate her son, who had reportedly hit Lawless's sister. Bailey ordered Lawless to leave the property after he threatened to hit one of her daughters. Lawless and three companions then left in a black Chevy Impala but returned a short time later and drove past the house twice at a slow speed. Bailey saw Lawless in the car, pointing what she believed to be a weapon at the house, which placed her in fear for her safety. Another of Bailey's daughters saw Lawless was aiming a black handgun toward the house as the vehicle passed by. The Impala then parked down the street from the house.

         The police were dispatched to Bailey's house, but the Impala drove off after the first officers arrived. Officer Craig Burkle located the Impala shortly after and tried to initiate a traffic stop. However, the vehicle drove off at a high rate of speed before its occupants abandoned it and fled on foot. Officer Burkle located Lawless and took him into custody a short time later.

         The State charged Lawless with possession of a firearm by a felon, assault with a dangerous weapon, interference with official acts, and assault on a police officer. Lawless pled guilty to interference with official acts and assault on a police officer. The charges of possession of a firearm by a felon and assault with a dangerous weapon proceeded to a jury trial.

         Before the start of trial, Lawless filed a motion in limine to exclude evidence concerning Lawless's detention and subsequent arrest. Specifically, the motion sought to exclude video and audio recordings that showed him "being combative with police, swearing, and failing to follow officer instructions" on the basis that the evidence was highly prejudicial and not relevant to the crimes he was charged with. The State argued the evidence of Lawless's conduct following his detention and arrest was relevant "to show his state of mind, his behavior at that point, which . . . [occurred] just near minutes after the alleged assault." The court overruled the motion.

         At trial, Officer Burkle testified about how Lawless behaved when he was taken into custody:

He was pretty calm at first. And then when we got him to the back of the squad car, he just absolutely freaked out and just started screaming at us, started nailing his head on the back partition, and just started screaming, "Why the fuck did you pull me over? Why the fuck did ...

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