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State v. Smith

Court of Appeals of Iowa

February 7, 2018

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
NATHAN GLENN SMITH, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Keokuk County, Daniel P. Wilson, Judge.

         Nathan Smith appeals his conviction for domestic assault.

          Eric D. Tindal of Keegan & Farnsworth, Iowa City, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Bridget A. Chambers, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

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

          BOWER, Judge.

         Nathan Smith appeals his conviction for domestic assault causing bodily injury, in violation of Iowa Code sections 708.1(1), 708.2A(2)(b), and 236.2(2)(c) (2016). Nathan claims the district court erred by admitting hearsay evidence and claims trial counsel was ineffective. We find the district court properly admitted the evidence and preserve Nathan's other claim of ineffective assistance for possible postconviction relief. We affirm the district court.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         On June 2, 2016, Keokuk Sherriff's Deputy Pence was dispatched to Delta, Iowa, after a 911 caller reported a domestic assault. Deputy Pence arrived and spoke with Crystal Rawson-Smith and her daughter immediately after the incident. Crystal reported she had been assaulted by Nathan Smith, her husband, against whom she had begun divorce proceedings and had a no-contact order, the result of previous incident of domestic abuse.

         Crystal stated she arrived at Nathan's grandmother's house with her daughter for the purpose of picking up the couples' son. After Crystal arrived she and Nathan began to argue. Crystal attempted to leave, but Nathan removed the keys from her car. After Crystal got out of the car, Nathan pushed her against it. She escaped and attempted to run to a friend's house located nearby. Nathan caught her and threw her down. The daughter reached the friend's house and dialed 911. Crystal was again able to escape and entered her friend's house.

         Deputy Pence arrived, photographed visible injuries consistent with Crystal's version of the events, took Crystal's statement, asked Crystal to write out a formal statement, and left to locate Nathan. Nathan was found the same night, though the record is unclear as to the exact time. Nathan admitted he had been in contact with Crystal to exchange their son but stated he had not argued with or assaulted her. After finding Nathan, Deputy Pence returned to collect the statement from Crystal.

         Nathan was charged on June 10. On October 17, the State alleged Crystal recanted her previous statements and, therefore, was an unavailable witness. The State claimed the residual hearsay exception applied to Exhibit 5, Crystal's written statement, but Nathan resisted the State's motion. A hearing was held but not recorded, and Nathan's presence was waived by counsel. During the hearing, trial counsel withdrew his resistance, and the district court found the residual hearsay exception applied.

         Trial began October 25. During the trial, the State offered Crystal's verbal statement, and Nathan did not object. The State also offered the written statement, and Nathan objected, claiming the evidence was hearsay. The district court overruled the objection and found the written statement was admissible as an excited utterance, as well as under the residual hearsay rule. Nathan was found guilty by a jury October 26.

         II. ...


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