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State v. Horst

Court of Appeals of Iowa

January 24, 2018

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
NICHOLAS DUSTIN HORST, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Cerro Gordo County, Gregg R. Rosenbladt (guilty plea), Colleen D. Weiland (objections to PSI), and James M. Drew (sentencing), Judges.

         A defendant appeals the sentence imposed following his conviction for serious injury by vehicle.

          Christopher R. Kemp of Kemp & Sease, Des Moines, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Tyler J. Buller, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Potterfield and Mullins, JJ.

          VOGEL, Presiding Judge.

         Nicholas Horst pled guilty to serious injury by motor vehicle, in violation of Iowa Code section 707.6A(4) (2016). Horst appeals the sentence the court imposed, asserting the court considered unproven facts contained in the presentence investigation report and improperly relied on just the community deterrence factor in determining not to suspend his sentence. Finding no abuse of discretion, we affirm Horst's sentence.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

         While texting and driving, Horst struck a bicyclist with his car, causing the bicyclist to suffer a skull fracture. There were allegations in the police reports and minutes that Horst was under the influence of methamphetamine at the time of the incident, but at the time of the guilty plea, Horst denied those allegations, pleading to the reckless-driving alternative to the crime of serious injury by motor vehicle. See Iowa Code § 707.6A(1), (2), (4) (defining the class "D" felony as unintentionally causing serious injury to another by operating a motor vehicle if the vehicle is driven in a manner described in subsection (1)-driving while intoxicated-or subsection (2)-driving "in a reckless manner with willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property" or eluding law enforcement).[1]

         Judge Rosenbladt accepted the guilty plea and ordered a presentence investigation (PSI) report. At the time set for sentencing, Horst, through counsel, objected to Judge Weiland's consideration of the PSI because it contained large portions of the minutes that included the unadmitted allegations of drug use. In response to defense counsel's objections, Judge Weiland continued the sentencing hearing and ordered a revised PSI report prepared. At the second sentencing hearing, defense counsel again objected to information contained in the newly filed PSI addendum that included improper information. Judge Drew agreed defense counsel's objections were "well placed" and agreed it would "not consider those matters." After hearing the sentencing recommendations from the State-a five-year prison term-and defense counsel-a suspended sentence with probation-and affording Horst his right to allocution, Judge Drew imposed a five-year term of imprisonment and suspended the fine.

         Horst appeals.

         II. Scope and Standard of Review.

         Our review of a sentence imposed in a criminal case is for the correction of errors at law. State v. Formaro, 638 N.W.2d 720, 724 (Iowa 2002). "[T]he decision of the district court to impose a particular sentence within the statutory limits is cloaked with a strong presumption in its favor, and will only be overturned for an abuse of discretion or the consideration of inappropriate matters." Id.

         III. ...


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