from the Iowa District Court for Black Hawk County, George L.
defendant challenges his convictions and sentences. AFFIRMED.
C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, and Theresa R. Wilson,
Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Sharon K. Hall, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee.
by Danilson, C.J., Mullins, J., and Carr, S.J. [*]
Smith appeals from his convictions and sentences for murder
in the first degree, in violation of Iowa Code sections
707.2(1), 902.1(1), and 910.3B(1) (2015), and domestic abuse
assault, in violation of section 708.2A(2)(a). On appeal, he
contends (1) he received ineffective assistance of counsel
when his counsel failed to move for dismissal as a result of
a speedy-indictment violation, (2) he received ineffective
assistance of counsel when counsel failed to object to
prosecutorial misconduct, (3) the trial court abused its
discretion in admitting certain evidence, and (4) the trial
court abused its discretion in denying counsel access to a
police officer's disciplinary records. He also raises
three pro se claims: that an instruction was improper, that
he received ineffective assistance when counsel abandoned two
potential defenses, and that his due process rights were
violated by the cumulative effect of certain alleged errors.
Background Facts and Proceedings
November 25, 2014, Shawonyta Norman visited his sister,
Latres Johnson, at the home she shared with her boyfriend
Martez Smith. At one point in the afternoon, Johnson was
putting up a baby gate to confine her two dogs when Smith
yelled at her and pushed her into the baby gate. She fell
into the gate, breaking it, and sustaining cuts on her ankle,
arm, and neck. Soon afterwards, Norman told Smith to stop
fighting and to stop speaking to his sister in the insulting
language Smith had been using. The situation between Smith
and Norman, however, appeared to calm down, as the men later
then went to the basement. When he returned, he asked Norman
to join him outside. Within ten minutes, Johnson thought she
observed "scuffling" outside and went to check on
the two men. Norman was by then coming up steps to the house
and saying "he stabbed me" and "I'm not
going to make it." Johnson helped Norman inside. She
slammed the door shut and locked it. She called 911.
Paramedics arrived and performed CPR before transporting
Norman to a nearby medical center. Norman was pronounced dead
roughly an hour later.
was arrested soon thereafter. On November 26, he appeared
before a magistrate and was charged with domestic abuse
assault causing bodily injury. On January 29, 2015, an arrest
warrant issued against Smith for the crime of first-degree
murder. He was arrested in jail and charged with murder.
case eventually proceeded to a jury trial. Following trial,
Smith was found guilty of domestic abuse assault and of
first-degree murder. Smith was sentenced to life without the
possibility of parole on the murder charge and to five years
with a mandatory minimum sentence of one year on the assault
charge. The two sentences were ordered to run consecutively.
Smith was also assessed costs, a fine, and a restitution
payment. He now appeals.
Standard of Review
right to effective assistance of counsel finds its moorings
in the Sixth Amendment. State v. Clay, 824 N.W.2d
488, 494 (Iowa 2012); see U.S. Const. amend. VI.
When a defendant asserts a constitutional violation, our
review is de novo. See Taylor v. State, 352 N.W.2d
683, 684 (Iowa 1984).
rulings are reviewed for an abuse of discretion. See
State v. Buenaventura, 660 N.W.2d 38, 50 (Iowa 2003).
claims he received ineffective assistance of counsel when
trial counsel failed to move for dismissal of Smith's
murder charge for a speedy-indictment violation.
assistance of counsel "is deficient performance by
counsel resulting in prejudice, with performance being
measured against an 'objective standard of
reasonableness, ' 'under prevailing professional
norms.'" Rompilla v. Beard, 545 U.S. 374,
380 (2005) (citations omitted). "[W]e measure
counsel's performance against the standard of a
reasonably competent practitioner." State v.
Maxwell, 743 N.W.2d 185, 195 (Iowa 2008). Prejudice
exists if there is "a reasonable probability that, but
for the counsel's unprofessional errors, the result of
the proceeding would have been different." Id.
at 196. "A defendant's inability to prove either
element is fatal." State v. Graves, 668 N.W.2d
860, 869 (Iowa 2003).
incident that led to Smith's arrests and convictions
occurred on November 25, 2014. He was arrested for domestic
abuse assault by November 26. A criminal complaint charging
Smith with murder was filed on January 29, 2015. A trial
information on the murder charge was filed on February 9.
speedy-indictment rule requires that Smith be indicted for a
charge within forty-five days of his arrest. See
Iowa Ct. R. 2.33(2)(a). Smith effectively raises two
questions: (1) does his arrest for domestic abuse assault
qualify as an arrest on his murder charge, and (2) if not,
when was he arrested for murder? Two recent cases have
answered these questions definitively. In State v.
Penn-Kennedy, 862 N.W.2d 384, 390 (Iowa 2015), our
supreme court reiterated that the speedy-indictment rule does
not apply "to all offenses arising from the same
incident or episode." The rule does not require a
prosecution to commence "before crucial evidence is
available" on greater charges. Penn-Kennedy,
862 N.W.2d at 390; see also State v. Burton, 231
N.W.2d 577, 578 (Iowa 1975) (holding ...