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State v. Stigler

Court of Appeals of Iowa

August 16, 2017

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
REUBEN ANTHONY STIGLER, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Black Hawk County, Kellyann M. Lekar, Judge.

         Reuben Stigler appeals from his convictions for attempted murder, willful injury, going armed with intent, domestic abuse assault with intent to cause serious injury, domestic abuse assault causing bodily injury, and false imprisonment.

          Mark C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, and Stephan J. Japuntich, Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Kyle Hanson, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

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

          DANILSON, Chief Judge.

         Reuben Stigler appeals from his convictions after a bench trial for attempted murder, in violation of Iowa Code section 707.11 (2015); willful injury, in violation of section 708.4; going armed with intent, in violation of section 708.8; domestic abuse assault with intent to cause serious injury, in violation of section 708.2A(2)(c); domestic abuse assault causing bodily injury, in violation of section 708.2A(2)(b); and false imprisonment, in violation of section 710.7. Stigler asserts the district court erred in finding Stigler possessed the requisite specific intent during the commission of the crimes and overruling Stigler's motion for judgment of acquittal. Stigler also contends the district court erred in allowing the admission of hearsay statements. Because we find the district court did not err in either respect, we affirm.

         I. Background Facts & Proceedings.

         On the evening of March 23, 2015, Officer Greg Kemp responded to the home where Stigler and his significant other, Angelina O'Connell, were living. Sherry Johnson-O'Connell's friend who was staying at the residence-called 911 to report she believed Stigler was trying to kill O'Connell. When Officer Kemp entered the house, he located Stigler and O'Connell in a bedroom. O'Connell's clothing was very bloody, and she appeared to have stab wounds. At the hospital, it was confirmed O'Connell had fifteen stab wounds to her face, torso, chest, side, and legs. Stigler cooperated with Officer Kemp and admitted he had stabbed O'Connell. As stated by the district court, during an interview with investigators at the police department following the assault:

Stigler gave a highly detailed description of the events and history leading up to this incident, as well as a detailed description of how he had stabbed, cut, and hit Ms. O'Connell. Stigler asserted the incident came about because he believed Ms. O'Connell was not telling him the truth. In the recording of the interview, Mr. Stigler repeatedly states he intended to kill her if she did not tell him the truth.

         The bench trial commenced on April 13, 2016. Stigler raised the diminished responsibility defense.[1] Stigler called two expert witnesses-Dr. Arthur H. Konar and Dr. Thomas Gratzer-in support of his argument he did not possess the mental capacity to form specific intent at the time of the crimes.

         In its July 8, 2016 order, the district court determined the State established the elements of all the crimes charged, including specific intent, and found Stigler guilty on all counts. Stigler appeals.

         II. Analysis.

         A. Diminished Responsibility. Stigler first contends the district court erred in overruling the motion for judgment of acquittal because there is insufficient evidence to ...


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