from the Iowa District Court for Muscatine County, Stuart P.
Murillo Jr. appeals from his conviction for failure to
Brian Weiler, Davenport, for appellant.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Thomas J. Ogden, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee.
Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Vaitheswaran and Bower, JJ.
DANILSON, CHIEF JUDGE
Murillo Jr. was convicted following a jury trial for failure
to appear for his pretrial conference, in violation of Iowa
Code section 811.2(8) (2015). On appeal, Murillo contends the
trial court erred by denying his motion for judgment of
acquittal based on the State's failure to present
sufficient evidence that he "willfully" failed to
appear. We reverse and remand for an order of dismissal.
reviewing a motion for directed verdict based upon
insufficiency of the evidence:
When presented with a motion for acquittal, courts must view
"the evidence in the light most favorable to the State
and draw[ ] all fair and reasonable inferences from it,
taking all the evidence into consideration, both direct and
circumstantial." State v. Duncan, 312 N.W.2d
519, 522 (Iowa 1981) (citations omitted). This
standard requires courts to assume the truth of the evidence
offered by the prosecution. Nguyen v. State, 707
N.W.2d 317, 327 (Iowa 2005). The evidence must be sufficient
to convince a rational fact finder that the defendant is
guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. State v. Shanahan,
712 N.W.2d 121, 134 (Iowa 2006). A fair inference of guilt is
necessary, not merely suspicion, speculation, or conjecture.
State v. Geier, 484 N.W.2d 167, 171 (Iowa 1992).
State v. Schlitter, 881 N.W.2d 380, 389 (Iowa 2016)
(alteration in original).
order to convict Murillo of failure to appear, the State was
required to prove that he "willfully" failed to
appear "before any court or magistrate as
required." Iowa Code § 811.2(8). Murillo asserts
the State failed to prove his failure to appear was willful
because it did not show he received notice of his pretrial
conference date. Specifically, relying upon State v.
Williams, 445 N.W.2d 408, 411 (Iowa Ct. App. 1989),
Murillo asserts the State did not call Murillo's previous
defense attorney to testify if Murillo was sent notice of his
pretrial conference date and that his presence at the
pretrial conference was required.
Williams, the court found the prior defense
attorney's testimony that the "routine
practice" of the office to immediately mail court orders
to clients was sufficient evidence to raise a presumption the
act was done, and that there was "sufficient evidence
defendant received notice" of his sentencing hearing.
445 N.W.2d at 411. The court did not, however, state
testimony by defense counsel was required. Yet, we must
still determine whether the evidence presented was sufficient
to show Murillo knew he was to attend the pretrial conference
and willfully failed to do so.
February 19, 2015, Murillo signed a written arraignment and
plea of not guilty on charges of possession of a controlled
substance with intent to deliver and a drug-tax-stamp