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State v. Gridley

Court of Appeals of Iowa

January 24, 2018

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
DONALD DEAN GRIDLEY, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Wapello County, Myron L. Gookin, Judge.

         Donald Dean Gridley appeals the district court decision denying his motion for new trial.

          Mark C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, and Bradley M. Bender, Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.

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

          Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Tabor and Bower, JJ.

          BOWER, JUDGE.

         Donald Dean Gridley appeals the district court decision denying his motion for new trial. We find the district court did not abuse its discretion and based its decision on reasonable factual and legal principles. We affirm the district court.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         Gridley previously appealed his conviction for homicide by vehicle, in violation of Iowa Code 707.6A(3) (2013). State v. Gridley, No. 14–1773, 2016 WL 5930002, at *1 (Iowa Ct. App. October 12, 2016). This court affirmed the conviction but remanded the case to the district court in order to apply the correct weight of the evidence standard on Gridley's motion for new trial. Id. at *5. Our court found the following facts:

Gridley and his father attended a funeral. At the reception, Gridley estimated he consumed at least seven or eight alcoholic drinks. Early the following morning, a deputy sheriff responded to a 911 call from a farmhouse. Gridley was outside. Gridley told the deputy he was involved in a vehicle accident and thought "his dad was possibly dead." The deputy noted that Gridley had "bloodshot, watery eyes, . . . slurred speech, [and] [smelled] of alcohol." He surmised Gridley had been drinking. A urine test taken several hours later revealed "a urine alcohol concentration of 0.198 grams per 67 mils of urine," a level that, according to the tester, could impair an individual. The test also was positive for marijuana metabolites, oxycodone, and benzodiazepines.
The deputy drove Gridley to the scene of the accident. He found Gridley's father pinned on the floorboard of the passenger side of the vehicle, facing the passenger side door. The deputy did not see "any evidence that [Gridley's father] was moved from the driver's seat to the passenger seat." Other witnesses who arrived at the scene confirmed the impracticability of Gridley's assertion that he had repositioned his father.
Two volunteer firemen at the scene heard Gridley ask, "Did I kill my father? Is he going to die? Did I kill my father?" A paramedic testified Gridley "initially admitted that he was the driver of the vehicle." While the paramedic conceded Gridley "seemed confused," he stated the confusion was "just over [his] questions later."
A deputy sheriff testified he "saw a red mark on [Gridley's] chest" that "resembled a steering wheel mark." A state trooper agreed with the prosecutor that "damage to a steering wheel" could "cause injuries to the driver of [a] vehicle" and this evidence could be used to identify the driver. An agent with the department of criminal investigation opined that two blood samples collected from the steering wheel and driver's side of the dashboard "matched the known profile of Donald Gridley." Gridley's father ...

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