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State v. Calaway

Court of Appeals of Iowa

March 7, 2018

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
DAMON MARCELLE CALAWAY, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Jeanie K. Vaudt, Judge.

         A defendant appeals the sentence imposed following his resentencing hearing. AFFIRMED.

          Erin M. Carr of Carr & Wright, P.L.C., Des Moines, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Genevieve Reinkoester, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

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

          VOGEL, Presiding Judge.

         Damon Calaway appeals following his second resentencing hearing. He asserts the court abused its discretion in imposing consecutive sentences and in denying his request for the appointment of an expert at state expense to testify in mitigation of punishment. We affirm the district court's resentencing decision.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

         In January 1999, Calaway was convicted of first-degree murder and first-degree kidnapping related to the 1996 death of Dawue Stigler. See State v. Calaway, No. 99-0258, 2000 WL 278711, at *1 (Iowa Ct. App. Mar. 15, 2000). At the time of the crime, Calaway was seventeen years old. Calaway was originally sentenced to two consecutive life terms of imprisonment without the possibility of parole. See Calaway v. State, No. 07-072, 2008 WL 5412262, at *1 (Iowa Ct. App. Dec. 31, 2008).

         Following the United States Supreme Court's decision in Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460, 489 (2012), which declared the mandatory imposition of life without parole for juvenile offenders violates the Eighth Amendment's prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment, Iowa's Governor commuted the sentences of all juvenile offenders who had received a mandatory-life-without-parole sentence for a homicide offense to life with no possibility of parole for sixty years. In September 2012, Calaway filed a motion to correct an illegal sentence arguing his original sentence and the commuted sentence were unconstitutional. The district court stayed the proceedings on Calaway's motion while our supreme court addressed identical issues in pending cases. See State v. Ragland, 836 N.W.2d 107, 122 (Iowa 2013) (declaring the Governor's commutation did not correct the illegal sentence under Miller and juvenile offenders must still be given an individualized sentencing hearing).

         In October 2015, Calaway filed an application to retain an expert witness at state expense for his resentencing hearing. He asserted the expert would provide testimony regarding his home life and background when he was a juvenile, and his capacity for change in adulthood. He estimated the expert would cost approximately $15, 000. The district court denied the motion, saying: "In this case, defendant does not need an expert witness to testify regarding his home life and background and capacity for change." The court noted the supreme court had already adopted standards through recent case law for the district court to apply when resentencing Calaway and

[t]he standards already incorporate the concepts that could serve as the basis of any expert testimony. . . . The concepts underlying the proposed expert testimony in this case are inherently included within the standards that have been carefully laid out by the United States and the Iowa Supreme Courts in their recent decisions. There is no need to hire an expert at public expense to testify to the concepts that have already been adopted by case law.

         The court also noted that no presentence investigation (PSI) report had been prepared in this case due to the prior sentence of life without the possibility of parole. The court ordered a PSI to be prepared and contain information regarding Calaway's family, education, criminal history, and other relevant factors to be considered. It also ordered the department of corrections (DOC) to expand its existing report to include additional information regarding Calaway's successes and failures while incarcerated. In the event the PSI could not be timely completed or if the DOC report was insufficient, the court authorized Calaway to retain an investigator to provide the necessary factual information and approved the investigator's expense up to $3000.

         The day before the March 2016 resentencing hearing, Calaway asked the district court to reconsider its ruling denying his expert after reviewing the PSI and the DOC's report, but at the ...


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