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State v. Poland

Court of Appeals of Iowa

July 5, 2018

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
DAKOTA M. POLAND, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Des Moines County, Mary Ann Brown, Judge.

         Dakota Poland appeals the judgment and sentence imposed on his convictions for first-degree kidnapping, second-degree kidnapping, and willful injury. CONVICTIONS AFFIRMED, SENTENCE VACATED IN PART, AND REMANDED.

          Mark C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, and Brenda J. Gohr, Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.

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

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

          DOYLE, Judge.

         A jury convicted Dakota Poland of first-degree kidnapping, second-degree kidnapping, and willful injury. On appeal, Poland challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his kidnapping convictions. He also contends the sentence imposed on his first-degree-kidnapping conviction is unconstitutional as applied to him. Finally, Poland argues the district court erred in assessing court costs to him without making a determination of his ability to pay.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

         The events giving rise to Poland's convictions occurred on March 10, 2016, at the home where Poland lived with his parents and three younger sisters. Poland, then twenty years old, was dating L.R., who was sixteen years old. L.R. had been staying at the home for approximately one week but decided to leave because Poland was drinking vodka. L.R. did not like being around Poland when he was drinking alcohol because "it always turned out bad," and she had told Poland that if he continued to drink, she would leave him.

         L.R. grabbed her purse with her belongings from Poland's second-floor bedroom and was walking down the stairs when Poland emerged from the kitchen, blocking the exit, and told L.R. to go back upstairs. When L.R. did not comply, Poland punched her in the face and put out a cigarette on her back. Poland grabbed L.R. by the arm and dragged her to the stairs. He then grabbed her hair and tried to drag her up the stairs while punching her. At one point, Poland stomped on her head. He also hit her over the head with a wall decoration. When Poland threatened to kill her if she did not go to his bedroom, L.R. relented.

         When L.R. reached the bedroom, Poland pushed her to the floor, secured the door with a chain lock, and barricaded it shut with a stick. While in the bedroom, Poland strangled L.R. and punched her about the head and face. He bit her on both of her hands, her right cheek, the bridge of her nose, and her leg. Poland struck her on the back with two different skateboards. He also punched her in the head while holding a glass ashtray in his hand. After forcing L.R. to her knees, he struck her on the back of her head and back approximately five times with what L.R. described as a "homemade machete."

         After the assault in the bedroom, Poland forced L.R. to the basement where he ordered her shower. When L.R. went into the shower clothed, Poland called her "stupid," told her to get out, and ripped off her shirt and bra. L.R. removed her pants and got back in the shower, which is when Poland began hitting her with a broom stick. After Poland ordered L.R. out of the shower, he hit her with the broom, causing her to lose her balance and fall into a pit in the floor where the shower drained. While in the basement, Poland also hit L.R.'s legs with a pool cue, telling her that he was going to break her kneecaps.

         After L.R. fell in the shower drain, Poland's mother intervened to stop the assault. L.R. dressed, and Poland's father drove her to the hospital. The emergency-room physician who treated L.R. found her visit memorable due to "[t]he degree to which she was beaten," with "multiple contusions, abrasions, bites, burns all over her body."

         The State charged Poland with first-degree kidnapping, second-degree kidnapping, and willful injury. Following trial, a jury found Poland guilty as charged. The district court sentenced Poland to life in prison for the first-degree kidnapping conviction and twenty-five years in prison on the second-degree kidnapping conviction, ordering the sentences to be served concurrently. The court did not impose a sentence on the willful-injury conviction because it merged with Poland's first-degree-kidnapping conviction. The court ordered Poland to pay court costs but found he is not capable of paying court-appointed attorney fees because of the length of his sentence. Poland appealed.

         II. Sufficiency of the Evidence.

         Poland challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his kidnapping convictions. Iowa Code section 710.1 (2016) provides the following definition of the crime:

A person commits kidnapping when the person either confines a person or removes a person from one place to another, knowing that the person who confines or removes the other person has neither the authority nor the consent of the other to do so; provided, that to constitute ...

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