from the Iowa District Court for Dubuque County, Monica L.
from the denial of an application for postconviction relief
filed pursuant to Iowa Code chapter 822 (2013).
M. Armbrust of Brown, Kinsey, Funkhouser & Lander,
P.L.C., Mason City, for appellant.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Linda J. Hines, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
Mullins, P.J., and Bower and McDonald, JJ.
Wright was convicted of attempted murder and voluntary
manslaughter for the stabbing of Derrick Tye and the stabbing
and death of Jermaris Lorez West. In State v. Wright
(Wright), No. 10-1330, 2011 WL 2041578, at *1 (Iowa
Ct. App. May 25, 2011), this court affirmed Wright's
convictions on direct appeal and preserved for
postconviction-relief proceedings certain claims of
ineffective assistance of counsel. In Wright v.
State (Wright II), No. 12-2101, 2014 WL 636150,
at *1 (Iowa Ct. App. Feb. 19, 2014), this court affirmed the
denial of Wright's application for postconviction relief.
In this case, Wright appeals the denial of his second
application for postconviction relief. Wright claims his
trial counsel provided constitutionally deficient
representation in four respects. Our review is de novo.
See State v. Schlitter, 881 N.W.2d 380, 388 (Iowa
the relevant facts and circumstances surrounding the offense
are set forth in our prior opinions. See Wright II,
2014 WL 636150, at *1; Wright, 2011 WL 2041578, at
On or about September 7, 2009, Wright was involved in a
street fight. Two of the participants were stabbed. De[r]rick
Tye was hospitalized as a result of his injuries. Jermaris
Lorez West died as a result of the injuries he sustained.
Wright was immediately arrested and taken into custody.
Wright initially exercised his right to remain silent in
response to law enforcement efforts to interrogate him. He
was permitted to call his mother, and she told him to tell
the officers what he had done. He responded accordingly and
admitted stabbing Tye and indicated he had tried to kill him
but did not admit to stabbing West. Wright was charged with
the attempted murder of Tye and the second-degree murder of
West. His statements were admitted into evidence at trial.
While Wright was incarcerated in the Dubuque County Jail he
was visited by Sister Rosanna Gleason, acting as a chaplain
or chaplain's assistant to the residents of the jail.
Wright wrote a letter in which he admitted stabbing Tye and
put it in an envelope which he gave to a jailer for delivery
to Sister Gleason. The letter did not admit that he stabbed
West. The letter was opened by the jail staff and admitted
into evidence at trial.
Neither Wright's admissions to the interrogators nor his
letter to his assistant chaplain were challenged by a motion
to suppress, and both were admitted at trial without
objection. Wright and his counsel had determined that he
would testify. The evidence was overwhelming that he had
stabbed Tye and substantial that he had stabbed West. The
blade of the knife recovered at the scene had blood with DNA
matching both Tye and West. Wright was found guilty of
attempted murder as charged and voluntary manslaughter
instead of murder in the second degree.
Wright II, 2014 WL 636150, at *1.
event precipitating the street fight occurred the evening
before the street fight. That evening, Wright had sexual
intercourse with a woman who was pregnant with Tye's
child and who was the mother of Tye's children. At some
point after Wright had intercourse with the mother of
Tye's children, Tye arrived at the home where Wright was.
Tye was accompanied by Shelby Redmond, De'Andre Murphy,
Deonte Howard, and Jermaris West. Tye confronted Wright, and
a fight ensued. Tye and two of the other men beat up Wright,
striking him with their fists, a six-pack of soda cans, a
flower pot, and a fire extinguisher. West intervened and
broke up the fight. Wright left the home and went to a nearby
park. Wright testified his lip had a hole in it, his nose was
bleeding, and he had lumps and knots in his face from the
following day, Wright and Tye, personally and through
intermediaries, communicated with each other by telephone.
Depending on whose testimony is credited, Tye made threats
against Wright or Wright made threats against Tye.
persons attempted to resolve the situation before things got
out of hand. Later the same day, Wright and his brother
Joseph, along with several other individuals, were driving in
a friend's car and they came across Tye and several other
persons outside a residence. Joseph stopped the car, and
everyone in the car exited the vehicle. After some talking
and posturing between the two groups, Wright got into a fight
with Shelby Redmond. The fight ended when an older gentleman,
known in the neighborhood as "Unc, " intervened and
attempted to break up the fight. West hit the man and knocked
him out. Wright and his associates left the scene in their
fight at issue in this case occurred not much later the same
day. Wright gave one account of the fight. After regrouping
at Wright's house, Wright testified he and his friends
decided to walk back to the scene of the previous fight to
check on Unc. When they arrived at the scene, Unc was being
placed into an ambulance. Police were at the scene. Wright
did not speak with the police. Instead, he, his brother, and
their friends decided to go to Romaine Wheeler's house.
They set out on foot and began jogging. Wright testified six
or seven men started following them. When Wright and his
associates turned a corner, they saw a car with West and
other individuals in it. Wright testified he believed a fight
was going to occur. Wright and his brother Joseph ran toward
the men exiting the car and started fighting with them.
Wright testified "twenty people" were involved in
the fight. Wright testified he did not have a knife at the
time the fight started. He denied stabbing West. Wright
testified he saw Derrick Wheeler stab West. At some point
during the fight, Wright testified, he saw the knife on the
ground, picked it up, and stabbed Derrick Tye. Wright
testified he "snapped back, " realized what he had
done, and backed away. At that point, Romaine Wheeler kicked
him in the back, which caused Wright to drop the knife on the
ground. Wright testified he then ran. He was arrested a few
State's witnesses gave a very different version of
events. The fight at issue occurred in front of the home of
Erica Palmer. She testified she saw a commotion outside and
called the police. She saw LaShaun Runnels and Wright
arguing. She saw Joseph and Derrick Wheeler "swinging on
top of" Tye. Later, ...