from the Iowa District Court for Woodbury County, John C.
Nelson, District Associate Judge.
defendant appeals his conviction and sentence for harassment
in the second degree.
Conrad Douglas, Sioux City, for appellant.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Louis S. Sloven, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee.
Considered by Doyle, P.J., and Tabor and McDonald, JJ.
by a student throwing litter out a school-bus window, Troy
Utech knocked on the bus door and convinced the bus driver to
let him board. Once inside, Utech approached a boy seated in
the back and threatened to squash his head "like a
grapefruit." The State charged Utech with harassment in
the second degree, and he pleaded guilty. The district court
sentenced him to jail time, gave him the option of electronic
monitoring instead, and ordered him to complete an anger
management course. On appeal, Utech challenges the
performance of his plea counsel and contends the sentencing
order was illegal.
Utech's complaints about his counsel cannot be resolved
on this record, we preserve them for postconviction-relief
proceedings. As for the legality of his sentence, because the
district court had authority to grant in-home detention under
Iowa Code section 356.26 (2016), we uphold the electronic
monitoring provision. But because the district court did not
place Utech on probation, we find no statutory authority for
ordering him to complete coursework in anger management.
Accordingly, we vacate the sentence and remand for
Facts and Prior Proceedings
October 2016, a Sioux City school bus driver, en route to
East High, was stopped in traffic when Utech pounded on the
door. The driver thought Utech was a parent trying to
"get his child off the bus" and opened the door to
let him in. Utech "walked up the stairs and began
yelling and cussing" about someone throwing things out
the window of the bus. Utech apparently was angry because one
of the students had thrown "a baked good" out the
window and hit his truck. Utech confronted some boys sitting
in the back of the bus, singling out C.H. in his tirade. C.H.
recalled Utech calling him a "punk" and threatening
to hurt him. The driver was "very afraid" of what
Utech would do and tried to calm him down.
November 2016, the Woodbury County Attorney filed a trial
information alleging Utech committed harassment in the second
degree by threatening to commit bodily injury against C.H., a
serious misdemeanor in violation of Iowa Code section
708.7(3). Utech initially entered a plea of not guilty. The
district court set a final pretrial conference in the matter
for May 10, 2017. Defense counsel appeared for the
conference, but Utech did not. The district court denied the
defense's request for a delay and issued a bench warrant
for Utech, setting a cash-only bond in the amount of $3000.
The court also scheduled a bond forfeiture hearing for May
11, Utech sent a handwritten letter to the court alleging his
defense counsel was "incompetent" and had not
informed him of the pretrial conference date. Utech also
floated the following idea: "I am requesting a change of
my plea if the State will accept I surrender of five days of
house arrest and if you would reconsider a rescind of the
warrant on my behalf." In addition, Utech shared with
the court details about personal financial strains he was
the same morning, in response to Utech's self-represented
filing, the district court issued the following order:
The court has received a letter from the Defendant. The clerk
shall immediately send copies of the same to the attorneys of
record. They shall each respond accordingly. The court is not