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State v. Schmitz

Court of Appeals of Iowa

March 7, 2018

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
ANTHONY SCHMITZ, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Floyd County, James M. Drew, Judge.

         Anthony Schmitz appeals the sentences imposed upon his convictions of child endangerment resulting in serious injury and serious injury by vehicle.

          Mark C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, and Vidhya K. Reddy, Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Sharon K. Hall, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

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

          MULLINS, Judge.

         Anthony Schmitz appeals the sentences imposed upon his convictions of child endangerment resulting in serious injury and serious injury by vehicle. He contends his attorney rendered ineffective assistance at his sentencing hearing by failing to object to the presentation of victim impact statements of two nonvictims.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         Schmitz was involved in a head-on, motor-vehicle collision in December 2016. In relation to that collision, he was charged by trial information with the following offenses: (1) child endangerment resulting in serious injury as to his daughter M.J.S.; (2) child endangerment resulting in serious injury as to his other daughter M.S.; (3) serious injury by vehicle as to the driver of the other vehicle, Heather Meyer; and (4) operating while intoxicated. Schmitz entered a plea of not guilty and demanded speedy trial. A plea agreement was reached under which Schmitz would enter guilty pleas to counts one and three[1] in return for the State's dismissal of counts two and four and any related simple misdemeanor charges. Schmitz ultimately pled guilty, and the court accepted his plea and adjudged him guilty of counts one and three.

         At the sentencing hearing, victim impact statements were presented by Steve Cerwinske, [2] Meyer, M.J.S., M.S., and Schmitz's wife, Anna. The State argued for consecutive terms of imprisonment, citing Schmitz's failure to take responsibility for his actions, the severity of his actions, the fact that the two victims were "separate individuals, " and Schmitz's status as a probationer at the time of the offense. Schmitz argued for concurrent sentences, citing the fact that the charges stemmed from "one incident" and arguing a ten-year term of imprisonment was sufficient to facilitate rehabilitation.

In reaching its sentencing decision, the district court stated:
In your particular case I do recognize that this was one incident, but I am very troubled, sir, by the fact that you were on probation when this occurred. There's been no genuine remorse that I can perceive. Your prior record is certainly serious, and the fact is as far as your addiction goes nothing has worked so far and so I don't know what it takes to get a man of your age's attention. There's resources out there, and thus far you haven't taken adequate advantage of those. And all of those factors weigh against concurrent sentences in this case.

         The court sentenced Schmitz to indeterminate terms of imprisonment in the amount of ten and five years on the respective counts. The court then explained:

For the reasons I have previously stated, I am ordering that the sentences run consecutively. I think this is a serious offense with multiple victims, defendant with a serious criminal record and thus far has not demonstrated the ability to get his addiction issues appropriately ...

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