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State v. Carter

Court of Appeals of Iowa

June 6, 2018

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
ROBERT E. CARTER, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Mary E. Howes, Judge.

         Defendant appeals his convictions for first-degree murder and first-degree burglary.

          Mark C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, and Vidhya K. Reddy, Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Bridget A. Chambers, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Heard by Vogel, P.J., and Doyle and Bower, JJ.

          BOWER, Judge.

         Robert Carter appeals his convictions for first-degree murder and first-degree burglary. We find the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Carter's motion for mistrial. In addition, Carter has not shown he received ineffective assistance of counsel. We affirm his convictions.

         I. Background Facts & Proceedings

         Late in the evening on July 15, 2015, Claude Hanson, who was sixty-two years old, was doing laundry at the apartment complex where he lived. His apartment was near the laundry room. When he returned to his apartment, someone threw something over his head and attacked him with a knife, stabbing him in the abdomen and causing defensive wounds on his arm and hand. Claude was able to call 911 for assistance. Police officers, paramedics, and fire fighters came to the apartment. Claude was taken to the hospital. After treatment, he informed officers about what happened. He never saw his assailant.

         Crime scene technicians took photographs of Claude's apartment. They found a knife and wallet at the scene, which had blood on them. Officers also took samples of blood found on the door handle to the apartment. At Claude's request, Bradley Hanson, Claude's brother, went to the apartment accompanied by an officer to pick up some items for Claude. Bradley moved some items in the apartment. After Bradley's visit, officers found bloodstains on a grey sweatshirt in the apartment. On July 21, 2015, Claude died of complications from the stab wound to his abdomen.

         The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) performed DNA analysis on several items obtained from Claude's apartment. The analysis showed a DNA profile, identified as male A, on Claude's wallet, the sweatshirt, and the door handle. In October 2015, through a database, the profile of male A matched that of Robert Carter. Officers obtained a new DNA sample from Carter, which again matched the DNA evidence on the items from Claude's apartment.[1]

         Carter had been living with his girlfriend, Carmen Jackson, and her mother a few doors down from Claude's apartment for about two years. From the front window of Jackson's apartment, a person could see the laundry room of the apartment complex. When officers approached Carter, he had a scar near his thumb.

         Carter was charged with murder in the first degree, in violation of Iowa Code section 707.2(2) (2015), a class "A" felony, and burglary in the first degree, in violation of section 713.3(2), a class "B" felony. During the criminal trial, Officers William Thomas Jr. and Mark Dinneweth both testified it was not uncommon for a suspect to be cut when wielding a knife. Jackson testified Carter was in the apartment sleeping at the time of the assault. The district court denied Carter's motion for judgment of acquittal. A jury found Carter guilty of first-degree murder and first-degree burglary. Carter was sentenced to life in prison and a term of imprisonment not to exceed twenty-five years, to be served concurrently. Carter now appeals his convictions.

         II. ...


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