Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

State v. Lajeunesse

Court of Appeals of Iowa

February 21, 2018

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
MICHAEL A. LAJEUNESSE, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Robert J. Blink, Judge.

         The defendant appeals from his convictions for attempted murder and willful injury.

          Mark C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, and Brenda J. Gohr, Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.

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

          Considered by Doyle, P.J., and Tabor and McDonald, JJ.

          MCDONALD, Judge.

         Michael LaJeunesse was convicted of attempted murder, in violation of Iowa Code section 707.11 (2016), and willful injury causing serious injury, in violation of Iowa Code section 708.4(1), after he beat and strangled a woman (This opinion will refer to her as "Jane Doe.") with whom he was having a romantic relationship. In this direct appeal, LaJeunesse challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his conviction for attempted murder and raises two claims of ineffective assistance of counsel. LaJeunesse also makes several pro se challenges to the adequacy of his trial counsel's representation.

         I.

         In his first claim of error, LaJeunesse challenges the sufficiency of the evidence in two respects. First, he contends his voluntary intoxication precluded him from forming the specific intent to kill or injure Doe. Second, he contends there was insufficient evidence to establish he strangled Doe.

         This court reviews challenges to the sufficiency of the evidence for the correction of legal error. See State v. Sanford, 814 N.W.2d 611, 615 (Iowa 2012). We will uphold a verdict if substantial record evidence supports it. See State v. Webb, 648 N.W.2d 72, 75 (Iowa 2002). "Evidence is substantial if it would convince a rational fact finder that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt." Id. at 75-76. When reviewing for the sufficiency of the evidence, we view the evidence in the light most favorable to the State but consider all evidence in the record. See id. at 76. "Inherent in our standard of review of jury verdicts in criminal cases is the recognition that the jury [is] free to reject certain evidence, and credit other evidence." State v. Nitcher, 720 N.W.2d 547, 556 (Iowa 2006).

         This court assesses the legal sufficiency of the evidence in light of the jury instructions given where, as here, the instructions were given without objection. See State v. Canal, 773 N.W.2d 528, 530 (Iowa 2009). With respect to attempted murder, the district court instructed the jury the State had to prove the defendant "beat and strangled" Doe and the defendant "specifically intended to cause the death" of Doe. The instructions did not define "strangled." The instructions defined specific intent as follows:

Specific intent means not only being aware of doing an act and doing it voluntarily, but, in addition, doing it with a specific purpose in mind.
Because determining the Defendant's specific intent requires you to decide what he thinking when an act was done, it is seldom capable of direct proof. Therefore, you should consider the facts and circumstances surrounding the act to determine the Defendant's specific intent. You may, but are ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.