from the Iowa District Court for Lee (South) County, John G.
postconviction relief applicant appeals the district
court's denial of his application.
Jeffrey M. Lipman of Lipman Law Firm, P.C., West Des Moines,
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Louis S. Sloven, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Doyle and Bower, JJ.
Hobbs appeals the district court's denial of his
application for postconviction relief (PCR). We determine
Hobbs has not proven his trial counsel was ineffective for
failing to inform him of a defense of others. We conclude the
district court properly denied his request for PCR and
was tried, convicted, and sentenced for the offense of murder
in the first degree. He appealed, and we set out the
underlying facts in his direct appeal:
The facts of the case surround November 5 and 6, 2010. On the
dates in question Hobbs attended the performance of a band at
the Lucky Star Bar in St. Francisville, Missouri. The
band's lead singer, Kimberly Jaeger, was Hobbs's
girlfriend and would later provide key testimony against him.
At the close of the band's performance, Hobbs approached
the bar and spoke with Shawn Wright, the decedent in this
case. Hobbs offered Wright a ride to Keokuk, which Wright
accepted. Hobbs, Wright, and Jaeger rode in Hobbs's car
from St. Francisville to Keokuk.
During their brief stay in Keokuk Wright purchased marijuana.
The circumstances of that purchase are in dispute. However,
what is not in dispute is that following the purchase Hobbs,
Wright, and Jaeger set out on a return trip to St.
Francisville. Jaeger testified that during that trip Wright
became sexually and physically aggressive, pushing drugs on
her and repeatedly forcing her to kiss him. At some point,
the three travelers decided to stop at an abandoned farmhouse
located in Iowa; it is at this point that the testimony of
Jaeger is disputed.
Jaeger testified that upon arriving at the farmhouse she
exited the car to avoid the advances of Wright. Jaeger
testified that, in an effort to free herself from Wright, she
attempted to push him away and fell to the ground. Jaeger
then testified that she observed Hobbs hit Wright in the head
with a wooden mallet. Jaeger claims to have "crab
walked" backwards to avoid Wright as he fell to the
ground. Jaeger testified that she could see the fatal force
of the impact in Wright's eyes as he fell. After a period
of stunned silence, Hobbs directed Jaeger to empty
Wright's pockets. Hobbs then struck Wright with the
mallet several times to silence him.
Testifying in his own defense, Hobbs agreed that the parties
stopped at the farmhouse. He stated, however, that he walked
away from Wright and Jaeger to urinate. Hearing a shriek of
some kind, Hobbs stated that he returned to find Jaeger
standing over Wright with the mallet in her hand. He claims
that Jaeger told him Wright had tried to rape her.
Jaeger and Hobbs generally agree on the course of events
which followed. They returned to Hobbs's trailer for a
brief time. Hobbs then borrowed a truck and returned to the
farmhouse. He wrapped Wright's head in a plastic bag and
secured the bag with speaker wire. Hobbs transported
Wright's body in the back of the truck to the riverfront
location where Wright would later be found dead. Hobbs then
returned to the trailer and began cleaning the truck with
bleach and water. Later, Hobbs and Jaeger returned to the
farmhouse and recovered Wright's dentures and a drug
pipe. Both items were eventually thrown from a bridge near
Jaeger's initial statement to police and her testimony
are in stark contrast. She contends that Hobbs instructed her
to be quiet so as to protect herself from the consequences of
the killing. This instruction was reflected in her initial,
inconsistent statement to police. Hobbs testified that ...