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Sauser v. State

Court of Appeals of Iowa

June 20, 2018

REVETTE ANN SAUSER, Applicant-Appellant,
v.
STATE OF IOWA, Respondent-Appellee.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Delaware County, Thomas A. Bitter, Judge.

         Revette Sauser appeals the district court's denial of her application for postconviction relief. AFFIRMED.

          Webb L. Wassmer of Wassmer Law Office, P.L.C., Marion, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Tyler J. Buller, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Considered by Doyle, P.J., Bower, J., and Mahan, S.J. [*]

          MAHAN, SENIOR JUDGE.

         Revette Sauser pled guilty to kidnapping in the second degree, voluntary manslaughter, and going armed with intent, after fatally shooting her husband, Terry, in their home. Sauser filed a postconviction-relief application and an amended application alleging a variety of errors. The district court denied the application after a trial.

         Sauser appeals, contending her trial counsel was ineffective in allowing her to plead guilty to kidnapping because the record lacked a factual basis for the charge. To prevail on her ineffective-assistance claims, Sauser must show (1) counsel breached an essential duty and (2) prejudice resulted. See Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687 (1984). "If we conclude [Sauser] has failed to establish either of these elements, we need not address the remaining element." See State v. Thorndike, 860 N.W.2d 316, 320 (Iowa 2015).

         As relevant to this case, second-degree kidnapping has four elements: (1) Sauser confined Terry, (2) with the intent to inflict serious injury upon Terry, (3) knowing she did not have the consent of Terry to do so, and (4) while she was armed with a dangerous weapon. See Iowa Code §§ 710.1, 710.3 (2011). Sauser's challenge focuses on the confinement element of kidnapping. In Sauser's view, her statements to police "can only be construed as there being a very short time period between when she made the presence of the gun known to Terry, Terry grabbing for the gun, and the ensuing struggle for the gun and discharge of the weapon."

         "Our cases do not require that the district court have before it evidence that the crime was committed beyond a reasonable doubt, but only that there be a factual basis to support the charge." State v. Finney, 834 N.W.2d 46, 62 (Iowa 2013). The factual basis can be discerned from "(1) inquiry of the defendant, (2) inquiry of the prosecutor, (3) examination of the presentence report, and (4) minutes of evidence." State v. Ortiz, 789 N.W.2d 761, 768 (Iowa 2010).

         Here, Sauser admitted to all the elements of the crime during her plea colloquy with the court:

COURT: On [April 3, 2011], did you bring a gun to your living room, knowing you were going to confine Terry Sauser?
SAUSER: Yes.
COURT: You knew you did not have the right to confine Terry Sauser during the argument that the ...

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