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State v. Boutchee

Court of Appeals of Iowa

July 5, 2018

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
JOHNNIE LEE BOUTCHEE, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Wapello County, Shawn R. Showers, Judge.

         A defendant appeals his convictions for attempted murder, two counts of willful injury causing serious injury, and going armed with intent. AFFIRMED.

          Mark C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, and Bradley M. Bender, Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Louis S. Sloven, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Potterfield and Tabor, JJ.

          TABOR, Judge.

         Johnnie Boutchee concedes he assaulted his girlfriend, T.T., and his housemate, J.R. Those assaults led to jury verdicts finding Boutchee guilty of two counts of willful injury causing serious injury, as well as one count each of attempted murder and going armed with intent. On appeal, Boutchee challenges the sufficiency of the evidence for attempted murder and going armed with intent. Boutchee also claims his trial attorney should have objected to expert testimony from J.R.'s treating physician. Finally, Boutchee contests the district court's order that he reimburse court costs without consideration of his reasonable ability to pay. Finding ample evidence to support the jury verdicts and no cause for his counsel to object to the doctor's testimony, we affirm Boutchee's convictions. As for the restitution issue, we conclude Boutchee's complaint is premature.

         I. Facts and Prior Proceedings

         Boutchee called 911 around 5 a.m. on December 5, 2016, telling the dispatcher his girlfriend was having a medical emergency and "needs some help." When paramedics arrived, they discovered two people who needed help. Not only was Boutchee's girlfriend, T.T., bleeding from multiple stab wounds in the bedroom. But in the living room, paramedics found J.R., bloody and barely conscious, on the floor. J.R. had visible head injuries and a laceration on his wrist. Safely in the ambulance, J.R. identified Boutchee as his attacker.

         Boutchee and his girlfriend had been out partying the night before. Boutchee was arrested, but returned home early in the morning. T.T. told the jury: "I was still sleeping, and Johnnie B. opened the door of the bedroom, turned the light on, took the bedspread and the sheet off of me, because I had my head over the bedspread and sheet. He told me to get up." Then Boutchee moved back and forth between the bedroom and living room, where J.R. had been sleeping on the couch. Boutchee took a metal baseball bat from beside the TV stand and twirled it around. Boutchee told J.R. "how much he hated" him and punched J.R. in the face with his fists and "started smashing" him with the bat, according to J.R.'s testimony. J.R. estimated Boutchee hit him more than two dozen times "all over his head." J.R. told the jury:

So I was in and out of consciousness a lot. I don't know how long I was out, but I-I was woke up to a knife going into my wrist, and Mr. Boutchee said to me, I know you love Jesus, but I love the devil, and I'm here to do the devil's work.

         J.R. also recalled Boutchee saying he was going to "do you both" so he could "go to prison forever" and "I'm killing you. Hurry up and die." J.R. pretended to be dead so Boutchee would leave him alone.

         Boutchee also showed T.T. a pocket knife with blood on the blade. Boutchee slashed the knife near T.T's throat and stabbed her several times in her neck and head. As she struggled to stay alive, T.T. convinced Boutchee to call 911. The ambulance transported her to the local hospital and then to University Hospitals in Iowa City. She required several weeks of hospitalization, underwent physical therapy, and suffered permanent paralysis on her left side from the stab wounds.

         In addition to his head and wrist injuries, J.R. suffered pelvic fractures and a lacerated spleen, which were not detected by medical personnel until he returned to the hospital a week after the assault. When Dr. Gregory Casey saw J.R. in the Ottumwa emergency room on December 11, 2016, he ordered a CAT scan revealing the pelvic fractures and "a pretty significant" injury to the patient's spleen, ...


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