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State v. McPherson

Court of Appeals of Iowa

March 21, 2018

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
JOHN CHARLES MCPHERSON II, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Woodbury County, John D. Ackerman, Judge.

         John McPherson appeals his conviction for assault on a police officer.

          Zachary S. Hindman of Mayne, Arneson, Hindman, Hisey & Daane, Sioux City, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Zachary C. Miller, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Considered by Doyle, P.J., and Tabor and McDonald, JJ.

          DOYLE, PRESIDING JUDGE

         John McPherson was charged by trial information with assault on a police officer causing bodily injury, in violation of Iowa Code section 708.3A (2016), [1]following a scuffle with Special Agent Todd Monney of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) that occurred in a Sergeant Bluff Police Department interview room. A jury found McPherson guilty of the lesser-included charge of assault on a police officer.[2]

         On appeal, McPherson challenges the sufficiency and weight of the evidence. Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the State, we find ample evidence to affirm the verdict. In addition, we see no abuse of discretion in the district court's determination the greater weight of credible evidence supported the verdict.

         I. Proceedings.

         At the end of the trial, defense counsel made a motion for judgment of acquittal. He argued, "The evidence is clear that no contact was actually made with Agent Monney. Even if the actions of Mr. McPherson were to be construed as an assault, it is clear that those actions did not result in any kind of bodily injury." The State resisted. The district court denied the motion, commenting, "Well, I believe I saw touching. We heard testimony about touching. We heard testimony of cause. It's up to the jury to decide whether this happened. And I believe there's sufficient evidence to submit [the assault-on-a-police-officer charge]."

         After deliberating, the jury found McPherson guilty of the lesser-included charge of assault on a police officer. McPherson filed posttrial motions-a motion for new trial and a motion in arrest of judgment-asserting the same arguments he previously raised to the court. The court denied the motions.

         II. Sufficiency of the Evidence.

         "Sufficiency of evidence claims are reviewed for correction of errors at law, and we will uphold a verdict if substantial evidence supports it." State v. Ramirez, 895 N.W.2d 884, 890 (Iowa 2017). On a challenge to sufficiency of evidence, we assess the record in the light most favorable to the State, including all reasonable inferences that we may fairly draw from the evidence. See State v. Howse, 875 N.W.2d 684, 688 (Iowa 2016). We will uphold a jury's verdict if it is supported by substantial evidence. See id. Evidence is substantial when a reasonable jury could rely on it to find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. See id. Evidence is not substantial if it raises only suspicion, speculation, or conjecture. See id. "Inherent in our standard of review of jury verdicts in criminal cases is the recognition that the jury [is] free to reject certain evidence and credit other evidence." State v. Nitcher, 720 N.W.2d 547, 556 (Iowa 2006).

         A person commits assault on a peace officer when the person commits an assault "as defined in section 708.1 . . . against a peace officer" and the person knows that the other person is a peace officer. See Iowa Code ...


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