from the Iowa District Court for Linn County, Mary E.
defendant appeals the denial of an application for
W. Pilkington of Nidey, Erdahl, Tindal & Fischer, P.L.C.,
Marengo, for appellant.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Benjamin Parrott, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee
Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., McDonald, J., and Goodhue,
GOODHUE, Senior Judge.
Byrd's application for postconviction relief (PCR) was
denied by an order entered August 31, 2016. Byrd appeals.
Background Facts and Proceedings
and her friend, David Keegan, lured a Pizza Hut delivery
driver into an apartment on January 6, 2002, where Byrd hit
him in the head with a hammer and Keegan slit his throat. The
victim died and was robbed in the process. Byrd was charged
with first-degree murder and first-degree robbery, and on
July 15, 2003, she was convicted of both charges after a jury
trial. Byrd was sentenced on September 22, 2003, to a life
sentence without the possibility of parole and ordered to pay
restitution to the victim's estate in the amount of $250,
000. Byrd appealed her conviction, and her conviction was
affirmed. State v. Byrd, No. 03-1578, 2004 WL
2387048, at *4 (Iowa Ct. App. Oct. 27, 2004). Procedendo was
issued on February 4, 2005.
filed a PRC application on November 12, 2008. Although the
legality of the felony-murder instruction used in her trial
was raised as a claim in the direct appeal, between her trial
and her first PCR action, the use of willful injury as a
predicate offense to felony murder had been determined to be
reversible error under many, if not most, circumstances.
See State v. Heemstra, 721 N.W.2d 549, 558 (Iowa
2006). Under the ineffective-assistance-of-counsel rubric,
and because of Heemstra, Byrd raised the use of the
felony-murder rule again in the PCR. Her claims were denied
by the district court, and she appealed.
court considered the appropriateness of the felony-murder
rule as applied to Byrd's claim and again denied relief,
noting that Heemstra only applied to willful injury
as a predicate offense and not to robbery and, in any event,
Heemstra was not to be applied retroactively.
Byrd v. State, No. 08-1930, 2012 WL 836391, at *1
(Iowa Ct. App. Mar. 14, 2012). In addition, in her appeal of
the previous PCR, Byrd challenged trial counsel's failure
to object to the court's imposition of a $250, 000
restitution amount instead of the statutory minimum of $150,
000. Id. No record had been made explaining how the
court arrived at the amount set. Id. Because of the
lack of any record, this court preserved the matter for a
possible future proceeding. Id. Otherwise,
Byrd's claims were denied. Wat *2.
Keegan was only seventeen and one-half at the time of the
murder, Byrd was twenty. Keegan was also convicted of
first-degree murder and robbery, and initially, both Keegan
and Byrd were sentenced to life in prison without the
possibility of parole. Keegan was resentenced to life but
became eligible for parole because he was a juvenile at the
time of the murder. See State v. Lyle, 854 N.W.2d
378, 402 (Iowa 2014) (noting mandatory life without parole
had been determined to violate the cruel and unusual
punishment prohibition of both the Iowa and United States
Constitutions when applied to minors). Because she was not a
juvenile, Byrd was not resentenced, and her sentence remained
life without parole.
correctly asserts the jury could have found her guilty as an
aider and abettor rather than as principal. She then contends
an aider and abettor cannot receive greater punishment than a
principal. She claims the jury should have received a
limiting instruction requiring it to find her guilty as a
principal to justify the sentence imposed. Byrd has again
raised the amount of restitution as an issue.