from the Iowa District Court for Black Hawk County, Andrea J.
defendant challenges his convictions for sexual abuse in the
third degree and enticing a minor.
Matthew C. Moore of The Law Offices of Matthew C. Moore,
PLLC, Chariton, for appellant.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Linda J. Hines, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee.
Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Tabor and Bower, JJ.
convicted Orlando Ramirez-Ruiz of sexual abuse in the third
degree and enticing a minor after hearing evidence that-at
age twenty-five-he picked up a thirteen-year-old girl from
her middle school, took her to the Motel 6, undressed, and
committed a sex act with her. On appeal, Ramirez-Ruiz
challenges the sufficiency and weight of the evidence, the
admission of hearsay evidence, and his trial counsel's
the evidence in the light most favorable to the State, we
find ample evidence to affirm the verdicts. In addition, we
see no abuse of discretion in the district court's
determination the greater weight of credible evidence
supported the verdicts. We also believe the district court
properly allowed a nurse practitioner to testify to a
statement made by the girl during the course of a
sexual-assault examination. Finally, we conclude Ramirez-Ruiz
fails to show he was prejudiced by his attorney's
decision not to object to an exhibit of translated text
Facts and Prior Proceedings
she was in seventh grade, A.M. started communicating with
Ramirez-Ruiz through Facebook. They developed a friendly
on-line relationship but did not meet in person that year.
Then in September of her eighth-grade year, Ramirez-Ruiz
picked A.M. up at school-telling the office secretary he had
permission to take her to a medical
appointment. Ramirez-Ruiz instead took her for
breakfast at Casey's General Store, drove around for an
hour, and ended up at the Motel 6 in Waterloo. Ramirez-Ruiz
checked in, telling the clerk he only needed the room for a
couple of hours. Once inside the motel room, A.M.-who had a
"crush" on Ramirez-Ruiz-took off her school
uniform. A.M. testified Ramirez-Ruiz's boxers were pulled
down. She also reluctantly testified that "the tip of
his penis touched [her] vagina." After they left the
motel, Ramirez-Ruiz took A.M. to lunch at Subway, stopped by
a park, and returned her to school in time to catch the bus
next day, A.M.'s parents learned of her absence from
school and her encounter with Ramirez-Ruiz. Posing as A.M.,
they sent text messages to him. Ramirez-Ruiz sent back
messages telling A.M.: "Never say anything about what we
did. . . . You know, in the hotel." A.M.'s parents
contacted police. Officers interviewed Ramirez-Ruiz, who
admitted spending the day with A.M., but denied having sex
with the middle schooler. From a holding room at the police
station, Ramirez-Ruiz called A.M.'s mother, pleading with
her to not press charges, offering to pay the family, and
proposing that he marry A.M.
of the investigation, A.M. met with a nurse practitioner at
the Allen Hospital's Child Protection Center. A.M.
acknowledged telling the nurse practitioner that when
Ramirez-Ruiz put his penis into her vagina it
"hurt." A.M. also had a sexual-assault examination.
A.M. testified that the nurse who performed the physical exam
"knew I had sex with someone." During the
colposcopic exam, the nurse observed two areas of redness on
A.M.'s hymen, as well as petechia caused by bleeding
beneath the skin. The nurse testified the redness and
petechia "could be due to trauma." The nurse told
the jury "given the history of what she had told me had
occurred, given the basis of what was found on examination,
it could have been from sexual assault." Because the
redness was gone by the time of A.M.'s follow-up visit,
the nurse concluded it was the result of "some type of
collected the underpants A.M. had been wearing at the motel.
A state criminalist detected seminal fluid on the underpants;
tests of the sperm fraction indicated the presence of DNA
from at least two individuals. According to the criminalist,
one contributor to the DNA mixture was A.M. and the second
profile was consistent with the DNA of Ramirez-Ruiz.
State charged Ramirez-Ruiz with sexual abuse in the third
degree, a class "C" felony, in violation of Iowa
Code section 709.4(2)(b) (2014), and enticing a minor, a
class "D" felony, in violation of Iowa Code section
710.10. After a three-day trial, the jury convicted
Ramirez-Ruiz on both counts. The district court sentenced him
to concurrent terms not to exceed of ten years and five
years. Ramirez-Ruiz now appeals.
Scope and Standards of Review
various claims raised on appeal call for different reviewing
standards. When considering the district court's ruling
on Ramirez-Ruiz's motion for judgment of acquittal and
hearsay objection, we review for correction of legal error.
See State v. Smith, 876 N.W.2d 180');">876 N.W.2d 180, 184 (Iowa 2016)
(explaining whether a particular statement constitutes
hearsay presents a legal issue, leaving the district court
without discretion whether to admit or deny its admission);
State v. Bash, 670 N.W.2d 135, 137 (Iowa 2003)
(upholding jury's verdict if it is supported by
substantial evidence). We employ an abuse-of-discretion
standard when considering the district court's ruling on
the motion for new trial based on the weight of the evidence.
See State v. Neiderbach, 837 N.W.2d 180, 190 (Iowa
2013). We review de novo the claim of ineffective assistance
of counsel. State v. McNeal, 897 N.W.2d 697, 703
Analysis of Appellate Claims
Sufficiency and Weight of the Evidence
challenges both the sufficiency and the weight of the
State's evidence for both his crimes. On the sufficiency
question,  we assess the record in the light most
favorable to the State, including all reasonable inferences
that we may fairly draw from the evidence. State v.
Howse, 875 N.W.2d 684, 688 (Iowa 2016). We will uphold
the jury's verdicts if they are supported by substantial
evidence. Id. Evidence is substantial when a
reasonable jury could rely on it to find the defendant guilty
beyond a reasonable doubt. Id. Evidence is not
substantial if it raises only suspicion, speculation, or
alternative claim challenging the weight of the evidence, we
must grant a new trial if the jury's verdicts are
contrary to law or evidence. Iowa R. Crim. P. 2.24(2)(b)(6).
A verdict is contrary to evidence when it is against the
greater weight of the evidence presented at trial. State
v. Taylor, 689 N.W.2d 116, 133-34 (Iowa 2004). Unlike
the sufficiency standard, where the district court must
approach the evidence from a standpoint most favorable to the
State and assume the truth of the prosecution's case, the
weight-of-the-evidence standard allows the court to balance
the evidence and consider the credibility of witnesses.
Id. at 134. In deciding whether to grant a new trial