from the Iowa District Court for Dubuque County, Michael J.
Shubatt (plea) and Thomas A. Bitter (sentencing), Judges.
defendant appeals his sentences for stalking, assault with
intent to inflict serious injury, and violation of a
P. Trevino of Jensen & Trevino, P.C., East Dubuque,
Illinois, for appellant.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Louis S. Sloven, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee.
Considered by Doyle, P.J., and Tabor and McDonald, JJ.
Cossom appeals the concurrent prison sentences imposed
following his convictions for stalking in violation of a
protective order and assault with intent to inflict serious
injury, as well as his contempt sentence for a no-contact
order violation. He alleges the district court considered
faulty criminal-history information in the presentence
investigation (PSI) report and abused its discretion when it
declined the State's probation recommendation. Because
the record reveals a proper exercise of sentencing
discretion, we affirm.
has two children in common with Tanetra Giles. Giles called
911 in early December 2016, and responding officers found her
bleeding from the right eye and elbow. She told them Cossom
dragged her by the hair and kicked her in the face causing
her injuries. The laceration to Giles's eye required ten
stiches. A neighbor witnessed the assault and reported what
she saw to police.
State charged Cossom with stalking in violation of a
protective order, a class "D" felony, in violation
of Iowa Code section 708.11(3)(b)(1) (2016); domestic abuse
assault causing bodily injury while being a second offender,
an aggravated misdemeanor, in violation of section
708.2A(2)(b) and (3)(b); and willful injury causing bodily
injury, a class "D" felony, in violation of section
708.4(2). By late December, Giles recanted her accusations
against Cossom. Cossom moved to dismiss the charges, but the
district court denied the motion.
March 2017, Cossom reached a plea bargain with the State. He
entered an Alford plea to stalking in violation of a
protective order and to assault with intent to inflict
serious injury, an aggravated misdemeanor, in violation of
section 708.2(1), as a lesser included offense of willful
injury. Cossom also stipulated to a pending contempt
violation of a no-contact order. In return, the State
dismissed the other aggravated-misdemeanor assault charge.
The State also agreed to recommend suspended five-year and
two-year sentences, placement at a residential facility,
formal probation of five years, and credit for time served
toward the eighty-day contempt sentence. Cossom acknowledged
at the plea hearing that the State's sentencing
recommendations were non-binding on the district court.
Cossom also agreed the evidence outlined by the State in the
minutes of testimony established his guilt beyond a
reasonable doubt for the stalking and assault offenses.
May 2017 sentencing hearing, Cossom offered "a number of
corrections" to the PSI. He challenged several items
listed in his criminal history. Defense counsel also
highlighted Giles's recantation of what she reported to
the investigating officers and medical personnel. Giles
testified at the sentencing hearing that she did not believe
it was a good idea for Cossom to go to prison because
"his kids need him." During his allocution, Cossom
admitted he had "quite a long criminal record" that
he was "certainly not proud of." Defense counsel
urged the court to honor the plea bargain, contending Cossom
was "deserving of the opportunity" to complete
programming at the halfway house. The prosecutor agreed the
halfway house would provide Cossom the "structure"
district court told the parties it had read the whole file,
including the PSI. The court said, as a general matter, it
gives strong consideration to the State's sentencing
recommendation but also examines the criminal history
provided in the PSI. The court noted in this case, the PSI
indicated Cossom had "already been to prison twice in
his young life. He's 24 years old." The court
reasoned "with his criminal history and with the
severity of what he did, I cannot say that probation is
appropriate." The court decided to "run the two
Cossom's insistence, defense counsel reminded the court
"the victim in this matter is admitting that her
allegations were in great part not true." The court
responded: "I heard that today. I also read in the
Minutes of Testimony and in the complaint allegedly there was
a witness that saw this incident and described it, and as I
read it, it's extremely troubling." The court
[O]nly looking at the fact that he has pled to a stalking in
violation of a protective order, assault with intent to
inflict serious injury, and stipulated to having violated a
no-contact order, with the criminal history he has, again,
that is significant. It's hard to ...