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State v. Janes

Court of Appeals of Iowa

January 10, 2018

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
DERRICK JANES, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Boone County, Paul G. Crawford, District Associate Judge.

         Derrick Janes appeals from the judgment and sentence entered upon his conviction for child endangerment. AFFIRMED.

          Mark C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, and Melinda J. Nye, Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Bridget A. Chambers, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., Potterfield, J., and Mahan, S.J. [*]

          MAHAN, Senior Judge.

         Derrick Janes appeals from the judgment and sentence imposed upon his conviction for child endangerment, in violation of Iowa Code section 726.6(1)(a) (2016). He contends there is insufficient evidence that he acted with knowledge that he was creating a substantial risk to the child's health or safety. Janes also asserts the court abused its discretion in denying his motion for mistrial due to prosecutorial misconduct, his trial counsel was ineffective, and the court abused its discretion in considering improper factors in sentencing him. Finding no error or abuse of discretion, we affirm.

         I. Background Facts.

         Janes was providing care for his girlfriend's two-year-old child from about 4:00 p.m. on March 15 to approximately 2:45 a.m. on March 16, 2016, in the apartment in which Janes resided with the child and the child's mother. During the time he was caring for the child, Janes was visited by five people, two of whom he did not know. The child was in the living room of the apartment while Janes and the others smoked methamphetamine throughout the night in another room. The mother of the child returned home about 2:45 a.m., spoke with Janes for about an hour, and then fell asleep.

         On March 16, the mother and Janes discovered the child had injuries to his head, ears, and shoulder that were not present the day before. The mother took the child to the emergency room (E.R.) later that afternoon. Medical personnel documented severe bruising to both the child's ears, bruising on the child's left temple and cheek, bruising on the child's left shoulder, an abrasion on the back of the child's head, and "defensive" bruising on the outer edge of the child's palms. In addition to these "newer" bruises, [1] E.R. personnel noted a "yellowish" bruise on the child's right thigh.

         In a March 18 statement to Detective John Mayse, Janes acknowledged he was at home with the child during the evening of March 15, he and the child's mother had smoked methamphetamine together before the mother left that afternoon, and "he was irritated that [the mother] hadn't come home." Janes told Detective Mayse that he had some friends come over about 8:00 p.m. and they brought a couple other people with whom Janes was not familiar. Janes stated he left the child in the living room, and he and the friends went into the bedroom where they smoked methamphetamine. Janes told the police officer he would watch the child "by opening the door and seeing what [the child] was doing. And when they were smoking, he would then shut the door to the bedroom." Janes told the officer "he had no idea how [the child] got the injuries. He didn't hear [the child] fall. He said he did not hear [the child] cry."

         Detective Mayse testified Janes stated all the adults smoked methamphetamine and "everybody took at least ten hits from a pipe." Detective Mayse explained he asked Janes about the drug use because "meth affects the body severely." He continued,

Meth ramps up your adrenaline system. Basically raises your heart rate. You can go through really severe mood swings from-I mean, to really sad, just crying, to severe anger, to severe anxiety, to severe paranoia, to the point where you start seeing things, hearing things that aren't there.
But the mood swings can be really severe. It can change really quickly from an emotion, crying hysterically, to severe anger to where-out-of-control anger. So, yes, I mean, to the extreme that, you know, meth can keep-basically keeps you awake. Not care. You can become very annoying [sic] of what's going on in your surroundings.
Janes was found guilty of child endangerment following a jury trial. He now appeals.

         II. Scope and Standards of Review.

         We review claims of sufficiency of the evidence for errors of law. State v. Howse, 875 N.W.2d 684, 688 (Iowa 2016). Our review of claims of ineffective assistance of counsel, as with all constitutional issues, is de novo. See State v. Ortiz, ___ N.W.2d___, ___, 2017 WL 6391646, at *3 (Iowa 2017).

         As for claims of sentencing error, our review is for correction of errors at law. State v. Formaro, 638 N.W.2d 720, 724 (Iowa 2002). "We will not reverse the decision of the district court absent an abuse of discretion or some defect in the sentencing procedure." Id. "When assessing a district court's decision for abuse of discretion, we only reverse if the district court's decision rested on grounds or reasoning that were clearly untenable or clearly unreasonable." State v. Plain, 898 N.W.2d 801, 811 (Iowa 2017).

         III. Discussion.

         A. Sufficiency of evidence.

         The jury was instructed that in order to convict Janes of child endangerment, the State was required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:

         1.On or about March 15 or 16, 2016, [Janes] was either:

(a) a member of the household in which the child B.C. ...

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