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Killings v. State

Court of Appeals of Iowa

September 13, 2017

ALLEN KILLINGS, Applicant-Appellant,
v.
STATE OF IOWA, Respondent-Appellee.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Mary Pat Gunderson (pretrial) and Lawrence P. McLellan (trial), Judges.

         Allen Killings appeals the denial of his application for postconviction relief.

          Andrea K. Buffington of Ranes Law Firm, West Des Moines, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Kelli Huser, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Considered by Doyle, P.J., Bower, J., and Mahan, S.J.

          DOYLE, PRESIDING JUDGE.

         Allen Killings appeals the denial of his application for postconviction relief (PCR). He challenges the PCR court's ruling denying his request for appointment of new PCR counsel, as well as the court's determination to combine the PCR case with Killings's other pending PCR matter. We affirm.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

         In 2009, Killings was found guilty of first-degree murder. See State v. Killings, No. 09-0739, 2010 WL 3894161, at *1-2 (Iowa Ct. App. Oct. 6, 2010). That year, Killings was also found guilty of first-degree robbery and four counts of second-degree sexual abuse in an unrelated matter. See State v. Killings, No. 10-0858, 2011 WL 1781518, at *1 (Iowa Ct. App. May 11, 2011). We affirmed all of his convictions on direct appeal. See Killings, 2010 WL 3894161, at *1-2; Killings, 2011 WL 1781518, at *1.

         In 2011, Killings filed an application seeking PCR in the murder case. The matter was docketed as PCCE068339.[1] Killings also filed an application seeking PCR in the robbery/sexual abuse case. It was docketed as PCCE069818, and it is this PCR application that is the subject of this appeal. Killings requested counsel be appointed, and the PCR court appointed one attorney to represent Killings in both PCR cases.

         In April 2013, a month prior to the scheduled trial date in PCCE069818, Killings filed a motion requesting new counsel be appointed in both PCR cases. He asserted that his appointed counsel was not proceeding as Killings directed. Trial in that case was continued to December 2013, and then again to June 2014.

         In April 2014, Killings filed another pro se motion requesting new counsel be appointed to represent him. Killings's motion expressly stated:

Note: the appointment of new counsel will not delay the proceedings because Mr. Killings simply desires new counsel to help him present his "pro se" case to the court in the best possible manner-once he has filed his pro se brief. Which will be shortly after the court does appoint new counsel.

         A hearing on Killings's motion was held, and Killings appeared telephonically. The PCR court asked Killings to clarify the relief he sought in his motion, summarizing: "So if I am to understand your motion correctly, Mr. Killings, you are asking the court to allow [your appointed counsel] to withdraw, and you want to proceed by-alone; is that right?" Killings responded, "Well, I am asking the court to grant me another attorney just to make sure I do it right. Just to make sure that my pro se brief is presented right in a manner to be presented to you." Killings also clarified that his request for appointment of new counsel was meant to apply to both of his PCR cases. The PCR court ruled that Killings would ...


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