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State v. Duncan

Court of Appeals of Iowa

March 21, 2018

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
RYAN J. DUNCAN, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Paul L. Macek (trial) and Stuart P. Werling (sentencing), Judges.

         Defendant appeals his conviction for delivery of a controlled substance (methamphetamine). AFFIRMED.

          Lauren M. Phelps, Davenport, for appellant. Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Louis S. Sloven, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Considered by Danilson, C.J., Bower, J., and Goodhue, S.J. [*]

          BOWER, Judge.

         Ryan Duncan appeals his conviction for delivery of a controlled substance (methamphetamine). We determine there is sufficient evidence in the record to support Duncan's conviction. We find the district court did not abuse its discretion in its response to the jury's questions. We find the district court did not err in determining Iowa Code section 124.411 (2015) could be applied to enhance Duncan's sentence. We conclude all of Duncan's claims of ineffective assistance by defense counsel should be preserved for possible postconviction proceedings. We affirm Duncan's conviction and sentence.

         I. Background Facts & Proceedings

         On November 3, 2015, Officer Andrew Raya, who was working undercover with the Quad-City Metropolitan Enforcement Group (MEG), made arrangements to purchase 3.5 grams of methamphetamine from Duncan for $315. Officer Raya met Duncan in a Hy-Vee parking lot in Davenport at about 1:35 p.m. Duncan was sitting in the driver's seat of a gold Cadillac. One of the surveillance agents for the purchase was Special Agent Jereme Hatler of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, who stated he observed Officer Raya approach "a male human being" in a gold Cadillac. Officer Patrick Mesick, who was also with the MEG, stated he observed Duncan driving a gold Cadillac to the Hy-Vee parking lot.

         Duncan was charged with delivery of a controlled substance (methamphetamine), in violation of Iowa Code section 124.401(1)(c)(6), a class "C" felony. The State also alleged Duncan was a habitual offender and would be subject to a sentencing enhancement under section 124.411 for committing a second or subsequent drug-related offense. Duncan gave notice of defenses of entrapment and diminished responsibility.

         Duncan waived reporting of the proceedings impaneling the jury. During the trial, Officer Raya identified Duncan in the courtroom as the person who sold him methamphetamine. He noted Duncan had distinctive tattoos on his neck, which he had observed at the time of the drug transaction. Officer Mesick testified he was shown a photograph of Duncan before the sale. He identified Duncan in the courtroom, stating he resembled the person in the photograph.

         After the State's evidence, the district court denied Duncan's motion for directed verdict. Duncan testified he did not sell methamphetamine to Officer Raya on November 3, 2015. In rebuttal, Officer Raya testified he obtained Duncan's cell phone number from a confidential informant. He stated he called the number, set up the drug transaction, and met Duncan for the drug buy as arranged. Officer Raya testified he had absolutely no doubt the person he met was Duncan. The court denied Duncan's renewed motion for a directed verdict.

         While the jury was deliberating, they sent two questions to the court, "When judging the credibility of the defendant, what effect should the defendant's conviction for burglary [have], if any?" and "Can the lack of easily obtained evidence be considered when determining reasonable doubt?" The State suggested telling the jury to re-read Instructions 7 through 13, which were the instructions for evaluating the evidence. Defense counsel stated the jury should be pointed in the direction of Instructions 10 and 12, "and I don't necessarily think that that means that they would not consider any of the other instructions." The district court ruled, "I think that the general approach is better, " and told the jury, "Please re-read Instructions 7 through 13."

         The jury found Duncan guilty of delivery of a controlled substance. Duncan stipulated to prior convictions for possession of a firearm as a felon and third-degree burglary, which were the predicate felonies for the habitual offender enhancement. He also stipulated to two previous convictions for sponsoring a gathering where controlled substances were used, in violation of section 124.407, for the section 124.411 sentencing enhancement.

         At the sentencing hearing, Duncan argued he should not be subject to the enhancement in section 124.411 because his previous convictions under section 124.407 involved marijuana. The court determined Duncan should serve a term of ten years, which was increased to fifteen as Duncan was a habitual offender, and then doubled pursuant to section 124.411, giving Duncan ...


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