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State v. Burt

Court of Appeals of Iowa

April 4, 2018

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
RICHARD JAMES BURT, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Wright County, Paul B. Ahlers, District Associate Judge.

         Defendant appeals his convictions for first-degree harassment, assault causing bodily injury, and trespass causing injury.

          Chad R. Frese, Marshalltown, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Louis S. Sloven, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Vaitheswaran and Bower, JJ.

          BOWER, Judge.

         Richard James Burt appeals his convictions for first-degree harassment, in violation of Iowa Code sections 708.7(1)(b) and 708.7(2) (2015), assault causing bodily injury, in violation of Iowa Code sections 708.1(2) and 708.2(2), and trespass causing injury, in violation of Iowa Code sections 716.7(2)(a)(2) and 716.8(2). We find the evidence is sufficient to uphold his convictions and trial counsel was not ineffective. We affirm the district court.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         Terry McLaughlin is Burt's sister and the executor of their mother's estate. The mother divided her assets between Burt and Terry but placed Burt's portion in trust, administered by Terry. Property located at 2236 Thompson Avenue was part of the mother's estate; the estate property is immediately across the street from Burt's property. Terry and Burt do not get along and have a history of disputes.

         In December 2015, Terry asked Burt to remove all of his possessions from the estate property. In April 2016, Burt was served with a notice of no trespass. Terry traveled to the estate property to inspect it, but Burt was already there. Terry returned on June 3 to find "the doorknobs were removed off the doors" and the windows boarded up. While Terry and her husband, Scott, discussed how to enter the property to inspect it, Burt drove "very, very fast" up the driveway, drove his car onto the lawn, jumped out of the car, and began to yell at the McLaughlins.

         Terry took pictures with her telephone. Burt continued to yell, kicked Terry to the ground, and said he would kill them and burn down Scott's parent's home if they ever came back to the property. Terry was shaken and believed Burt's threats. They left the property and called law enforcement.

         Officers arrived and photographed Terry's leg. Her pants had a boot print similar to Burt's boots, and she also had a large bruise. Sheriff's deputies went to the estate property to investigate. The lawn showed tire marks consistent with Terry's statement. The deputies went to Burt's home to question him. Burt said he had arrived at the property and had been hit in the head with a circular saw. Photographs taken by Terry show Scott holding a circular saw while confronting Burt. Burt also told the deputies Scott had kicked him while he was on the ground. Burt had not resisted because Terry was taking pictures, and Burt assumed the McLaughlins were trying to set him up. The deputies examined Burt and found no injuries on his head or face, and they found no evidence Burt had been kicked while on the ground.

         A jury found Burt guilty of all four counts. He was sentenced to four concurrent terms of imprisonment of 365 days. All but sixty days of the sentence were suspended and Burt was given credit for time served. Burt was also placed on probation for a period of two years. The district court imposed fines totaling $1880 along with surcharges. Burt now appeals.

         II. ...


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