from the Iowa District Court for Jackson County, Nancy S.
defendant appeals his convictions for kidnapping in the first
degree and domestic abuse assault, challenging the
sufficiency of the evidence and claiming ineffective
assistance of counsel. AFFIRMED.
C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, and Nan Jennisch,
Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Sheryl Soich, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee.
Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Potterfield and Bower, JJ.
Tabor, J.takes no part.
Lee Sisco appeals his conviction for kidnapping in the first
degree and domestic abuse assault. See Iowa Code
§§ 708.2A(2)(d), 710.1(3) (2015). Sisco claims the
evidence was insufficient to convict him of first-degree
kidnapping. Sisco also claims trial counsel was ineffective
in failing to object to the jury instructions defining
kidnapping in the first degree. We affirm.
Background Facts and Proceedings
April 15, 2015, Sisco and his girlfriend D.R. went on a walk.
Sisco rode home on his motorbike, while D.R. drove home in a
car. During the ride home, Sisco crashed his motorbike, but
he was able to drive it the rest of the way. D.R. did not see
the crash and did not stop. When she arrived back to the
trailer they shared, Sisco was visibly angry. When D.R. got
out of the car, Sisco yelled at her and slammed the door of
the trailer. Sisco then pulled D.R. into the trailer. A
neighbor saw the altercation and called the police when he
heard D.R. screaming.
Sisco pulled D.R. into the trailer, he ordered her to get
undressed. D.R. refused, and Sisco got on top of her and
began punching and slapping her. Sisco then stretched
D.R.'s right leg past her head until she "could hear
it cracking." D.R. then convinced Sisco to let her
bandage his injury from the crash. After D.R. bandaged Sisco,
he again ordered her to get undressed. She did and testified
she "knew bad things would happen" if she
didn't. Sisco then told her to go into the bedroom and
lay down, and she complied. Sisco began to strangle D.R. with
a tank top. D.R. testified that she could feel a tingling in
her body and "was just gonna let go."
he strangled D.R., Sisco yelled at her saying he was
"[t]ired of your mouth. Why do you have to be such a
bitch? You're going to start listening to me. You're
going to do what I want, how many times I want it, wherever I
want it." Sisco also stated, "I'm the meanest
boyfriend you ever had. I'm gonna show you." As he
was choking D.R. with the tank top, he proceeded to forcibly
anally penetrate her. Sisco released the tank top briefly and
asked, "Do you understand me?" D.R., while trying
to catch her breath, said "Yes." Sisco said,
"I don't fucking believe you, " and resumed
enforcement responded to the scene and knocked on the door.
Sisco ignored the knock, but after the knocking continued he
ordered D.R. to get dressed and "be quiet and don't
say anything." Sisco informed the police they could not
come in, but eventually allowed D.R. to go outside. D.R.
informed the police of what happened, and the police took
Sisco into custody. D.R. was then transported to the police
station and the hospital.
five-day jury trial was held, and the jury convicted Sisco of
one count of kidnapping in the first degree and one count of
domestic abuse assault. At trial two experts testified about
the nature of D.R.'s injuries. Dr. David Posey, who
testified for the defense, did not believe the victim's
injuries matched her description of events and claimed they
did not create a substantial risk of death. The State called
Dr. Dennis Klein, who testified the injuries were consistent
with D.R.'s account and the injuries were life-threating.
II. Standard of Review
the issue of sufficiency of the evidence, we review claims
for correction of errors at law." State v.
Robinson, 859 N.W.2d 464, 467 (Iowa 2015). The test for
whether the evidence is sufficient is whether the evidence is
"substantial." State v. Musser, 721 N.W.2d
758, 760 (Iowa 2006). "Substantial evidence" is
evidence that could lead a rational trier of fact to find the
defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Robinson, 859 N.W.2d at 467. On appeal, we look at
all the evidence as a whole and view it in the light most
favorable to the State. Id.
review claims of ineffective assistance of counsel de novo.
Ledezma v. State, 626 N.W.2d 134, 141 (Iowa 2001).
"To prevail on a claim of ineffective assistance of
counsel, the [defendant] must demonstrate both ineffective
assistance and prejudice, " and each element must be
proven by a preponderance of the evidence. Id. at
142. "If the claim lacks prejudice, it can be decided on
that ground alone without deciding whether the attorney
performed deficiently." Id.
"Representation by counsel is presumed competent, and a
postconviction applicant has the burden to prove by a
preponderance of the evidence that counsel was
ineffective." Jones v. State, 479 N.W.2d 265,
272 (Iowa 1991). Regarding prejudice, "the proper
standard requires the defendant to show that there is a
reasonable probability that, but for counsel's
unprofessional errors, the result ...