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State v. Long

Court of Appeals of Iowa

March 21, 2018

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
LOREN LONG, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Paul L. Macek, Judge.

         A defendant appeals his convictions of ten counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, challenging the jury instructions and the admission of photographic evidence. AFFIRMED.

          Mark C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, and Maria Ruhtenberg, Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Darrel L. Mullins, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., Bower, J., and Scott, S.J. [*]

          SCOTT, Senior Judge.

         Following a jury trial, Loren Long was convicted of ten counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, in violation of Iowa Code section 728.12(3) (2015), for possessing child pornography. On appeal he asserts his counsel was ineffective for failing to object to the marshalling jury instruction he asserts violates the unanimity rule. He also claims the court abused its discretion in admitting an excessive amount of photographs of child pornography and child erotica. In addition, Long filed a pro se brief appearing to challenge the sufficiency of the evidence he possessed the child pornography. For the reasons stated herein, we affirm his convictions.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

         In the fall of 2014, Long became a resident at Freedom Home Ministries, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping those who are homeless and suffering from addiction start over with life. After several months, Long violated the house rules and was subject to immediate dismissal. After he went to work, staff with the ministry entered his room to pack up his belongings. During that process, the staff located a tote containing a large quantity of printed pictures, some of which contained photographs of children in a sexual manner. The staff contacted police, who obtained a search warrant and seized the pictures and a computer used by the residents.

         The State filed ten counts against Long for his possession of child pornography. Prior to trial, Long filed a motion in limine seeking to restrict the number of photographs that could be shown to the jury. The court restricted the State to fifty pictures it claimed amounted to child pornography and five pictures of child erotica, which was less than the 124 total pictures the State intended to enter into evidence. The case proceeded to jury trial in February 2017, and the jury returned a guilty verdict on each of the ten counts. Long was sentenced to two years in prison on each of the ten counts and those terms were ordered to run consecutively for a total term of twenty years. He now appeals.

         II. Scope and Standard of Review.

         We review de novo Long's claim his counsel was ineffective in failing to object to the marshalling jury instruction. See State v. Ondayog, 722 N.W.2d 778, 783 (Iowa 2006). The district court's decision to admit photographic evidence is reviewed for abuse of discretion. State v. Hunt, 801 N.W.2d 366, 374 (Iowa Ct. App. 2011) ("The determination to admit or to refuse admission into evidence of the photographs lies initially in the discretion of the trial court, and we will not reverse except when an abuse of discretion is shown, as where the evidence is clearly irrelevant or prejudicial." (citation omitted)). Finally, to the extent Long raises a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence to prove he possessed the child pornography, our review is for the correction of errors at law. See State v. Ortiz, 905 N.W.2d 174, 179 (Iowa 2017).

         III. Ineffective Assistance of Counsel-Jury Instruction.

         Iowa Code section 728.12(3) provides, in part: "It shall be unlawful to knowingly purchase or possess a visual depiction of a minor engaging in a prohibited sexual act or the simulation of a prohibited ...


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