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Linn v. State

Court of Appeals of Iowa

January 10, 2018

CATHRYN ANN LINN, Applicant-Appellant,
v.
STATE OF IOWA, Respondent-Appellee.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Muscatine County, Nancy S. Tabor, Judge.

         Cathryn Linn appeals the district court's order granting summary judgment on her application for postconviction relief following her 2007 conviction for first-degree murder.

          Darrell G. Meyer, Marshalltown, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Louis S. Sloven, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Considered by Potterfield, P.J., Mullins, J., and Carr, S.J. [*] Tabor, J., takes no part.

          CARR, SENIOR JUDGE.

         Cathryn Linn appeals the district court's order granting summary judgment on her application for postconviction relief (PCR) following her 2007 conviction for first-degree murder, claiming evidence of battered women's syndrome should have been introduced by trial counsel and admitted by the district court to bolster her justification defense. Linn also raises a claim of ineffective assistance of PCR counsel. Upon our review, we affirm the court's order denying Linn's application for postconviction relief.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         In its opinion affirming Linn's conviction on direct appeal, this court set forth the following facts surrounding the incident leading to Linn's charge:

Muscatine police officers were dispatched to Linn's residence in the early morning hours of February 7, 2007, after Linn called 911 to report she had shot someone. Several officers arrived at the residence brandishing weapons. Linn appeared at the door, yelling and screaming, and was told to show her hands. Upon determining Linn was unarmed, the officers entered the residence and discovered the body of Barry Blanchard in the bedroom. An M-1 carbine rifle and gun case were on the bed.
While the officers were investigating inside of the house, Officer Jason Williams stayed on the porch with Linn. She was only wearing a nightgown, so another officer located a pair of boots and coat inside the home for Linn. While Linn was sitting on the steps, an officer yelled out of the house and asked, "Is she saying she shot him?" In turn, Williams asked her, "Did you shoot him?" to which Linn replied, "Yes." Linn also stated, "I only had one gun and one bullet, and I shot him because he was not being nice to me."
Linn was informed she needed to go to the Public Safety Building and speak with a detective. Officer Williams transported Linn in the backseat of his squad car. Linn was informed she was not under arrest. She was not handcuffed and Officer Williams did not attempt to question her. Linn asked Officer Williams if Blanchard had died, and Williams replied that he did not know. Linn also stated, "My life has ended up as [a] murder."
Detective Mark Lawrence was asked to interview Linn upon her arrival at the station. Detective Lawrence was told Linn was not under arrest. However, he decided to advise her of her Miranda rights because she was confined to an investigation room, believing it to be the prudent thing to do. Linn asked, "Did I kill him?" and "Did he die?" Detective Lawrence told Linn that before he could answer her questions, he had to read the Miranda form to her. He also told her he did not know if Blanchard was dead. Linn signed the waiver. An analysis of Linn's urine shows her blood alcohol concentration at the time was . 181.
During the police interview, Linn admitted to threatening Blanchard with the rifle. She also stated that she told Blanchard no one was going to tell her what to do in her house and that the shooting ...

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