from the Iowa District Court for Lee (North) County, Michael
J. Schilling, Judge.
defendant appeals his consecutive sentences for two counts of
assault while displaying a dangerous weapon.
Dial of Law Office of Curtis Dial, Keokuk, for appellant.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Darrel Mullins, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee.
Considered by Tabor, P.J., Bower, J., and Blane, S.J.
Huss appeals the indeterminate two-year consecutive prison
sentences imposed following his guilty pleas to two counts of
assault while displaying a dangerous weapon. Citing his solid
work history and family circumstances, Huss contends the
district court abused its discretion by denying his request
for suspended sentences. Because the record reveals nothing
unreasonable about the chosen sentences, we affirm.
who was twenty-nine years old, assaulted twin brothers at
knifepoint outside a bar in Fort Madison. Both victims
suffered multiple stab wounds. The State filed an eight-count
trial information, charging Huss with two counts of attempt
to commit murder, two counts of willful injury, two counts of
carrying weapons, and two counts of assault while displaying
a weapon. After reaching a plea bargain with the State, Huss
pleaded guilty to two counts of assault while displaying a
weapon, aggravated misdemeanors, in violation of Iowa Code
section 708.2(3) (2016).
sentencing hearing, the brothers gave victim impact
statements discussing the profound effect of the assaults and
asking the court to impose the maximum sentence. In
mitigation, Huss presented testimony from his employer and
his girlfriend with whom he had a child. Defense counsel
acknowledged Huss had a "lengthy criminal history"
but argued Huss "did change" since his release from
prison in 2012. The defense emphasized Huss was a good
employee and supported his child. The prosecution lobbied for
consecutive prison sentences because of Huss's long
record of violent offenses and his previous failure on
district court ordered Huss to serve indeterminate two-year
terms of incarceration for both assaults to run
consecutively. The court explained Huss was "not a
youthful offender" and had a history of violent crime.
The court was especially bothered by Huss's display of
the knife during the assaults. On appeal, Huss challenges
only his prison sentence.
review Huss's sentence for correction of legal error and
will not reverse unless we find the sentencing court abused
its discretion or allowed some defect in the sentencing
procedure. See State v. Formaro, 638 N.W.2d 720, 724
(Iowa 2002). Because Huss's sentence fell within the
statutory limits, we entertain a presumption in its favor.
See id. A district court abuses its discretion when
it chooses a sentence on untenable grounds. State v.
Hill, 878 N.W.2d 269, 272 (Iowa 2016). The grounds are
untenable when they are "not supported by substantial
evidence" or are "based on an erroneous application
of the law." Id. (quoting State v.
Putman, 848 N.W.2d 1, 8 (Iowa 2014)).
argues the court abused its discretion by denying his request
for probation. He complains the sentencing decision takes him
away from his family and the opportunity "to continue
his gainful employment."
district court's choice to grant or deny probation is a
matter of "broad discretion subject only to the
statutory provision that the grant shall promote the
rehabilitation of the defendant and the protection of the
community." State v. Ramirez, 400 N.W.2d 586,
590 (Iowa 1987) (citing Iowa Code §§ 901.5, 907.5
(1985)). When exercising its sentencing discretion, the
district court must weigh relevant factors such as the nature
of the offense and attending circumstances; the
defendant's age; and his character, propensities, and
chances of reform. See State v. Leckington,
713 N.W.2d 208, 216 (Iowa 2006). A sentencing court owes
"a duty to the public as much as to defendant" when
deciding if probation is appropriate. Id. (quoting
State v. August, 589 N.W.2d 740, 744 (Iowa 1999)).
court here considered Huss's age and work history, as
well as his "numerous felony convictions of
violence" and his "inability to perform well on
probation and parole." The court's decision to
impose consecutive prison terms was reasonable under the
circumstances. On this record, Huss cannot overcome the
strong presumption of validity given to the sentencing