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State v. Ball

Court of Appeals of Iowa

July 18, 2018

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
MICHAEL SHAWN BALL, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Dubuque County, Michael J. Shubatt, Judge.

         Michael Ball appeals his convictions for conduct with a minor, and he appeals provisions in his judgment and sentence. CONVICTIONS AFFIRMED, SENTENCE AFFIRMED IN PART AND VACATED IN PART, AND REMANDED FOR ENTRY OF A CORRECTED SENTENCE.

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

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

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


         Michael "Wally" Ball appeals his convictions for enticing a minor, supplying alcohol to a minor, indecent exposure, and invasion of privacy. He argues the evidence is insufficient to prove he committed enticement. He also argues the district court abused its discretion in refusing to exclude the testimony of his former wife, Beth Ball, and it erred in imposing sexual abuse victim surcharges and special conditions of probation and in ordering appellate attorney fees unless he filed a request for a hearing on his ability to pay. We find sufficient evidence supports Ball's conviction for enticement. We also find the district court did not abuse its discretion in permitting Beth to testify, and the court did not err in imposing special conditions or in stating Ball may be assessed appellate attorney fees at a later date subject to his reasonable ability to pay. However, the district court erred in imposing sexual-abuse-victim surcharges under Iowa Code section 911.2B (2014), and we remand for the limited purpose of entering a corrected sentence without the surcharges.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         A.G. was born in October 2000 and the acts she alleged to have occurred were in and around May 2014. At the time, A.G. lived in Dubuque near L.B., who lived with her father, Michael Ball, [1] and her mother, Beth Ball. A.G. testified she and L.B. "were like sisters" and they hung out together almost every day.

         During the time at issue, A.G. had a personal cell phone with over one hundred contacts, including numbers for her friends and some friends' parents. One contact was a phone number associated with Ball, and she never received a call from anyone other than Ball from this number. A.G. testified she saw Ball with the phone associated with this contact and he always kept it with him or locked in his bedroom. Beth testified Ball's phone previously belonged to their son, who no longer lived with them. Additionally, Beth had a personal cell phone, L.B. had a personal phone that could make calls using Wi-Fi but did not have cellular service, and their home had a landline phone. Beth testified they occasionally punished L.B. by taking her phone, and L.B. had once hid Beth's phone for a week.

         At trial, A.G. testified Ball began acting inappropriately with her in May 2014. She related two notable incidents that occurred around May 28. In the first incident-the living room incident-A.G. was in Ball's living room while L.B. was on the computer a few feet away. She looked in a living room mirror and saw a reflection of Ball standing down the hall in his bedroom doorway masturbating, stroking his penis with his hand. A.G. believed his actions were aimed at her because he was looking at the same mirror, L.B. could not see him from her position, and no one else was in the home at the time. The incident upset her, but she did not tell an adult about the living room incident at the time "[b]ecause I was young and I didn't know what to do. I thought if I told someone, it would ruin their family, and I loved [L.B.] too much to create that divide between her family."

         In the second incident-the bedroom incident-A.G. and L.B. entered Ball's home after they had just bought new clothes. While L.B. took a shower, A.G. yelled to her, "I'm just going to change in your room and try on those clothes." A.G. then entered L.B.'s bedroom, locked the bedroom door, and began changing. Soon after, Ball opened the bedroom door, entered the room when A.G. was not wearing pants or underwear, and masturbated with his penis in his hand while he stared at her. She screamed for L.B., and Ball pulled up his pants and left the room like nothing had happened.

         A.G. testified Ball exposed himself to her other times too. For example, he would lie in his bed and masturbate to pornography with his door open when he knew she was in the home. She believed these incidents were a way to get her attention, and there were "[t]oo many" incidents to put a number on.

         A.G. testified Ball also provided alcohol to her and L.B. during summer 2014. Once, she sent him a text message that said "[I]f you don't buy us alcohol, [then] I will report you to your wife and tell her everything that you have been doing." He "seem[ed] excited" by the request and asked for "[s]exual favors" in return.

         At trial, the State produced a series of text messages A.G had provided that came to her from the phone number associated with Ball between 10:42 p.m. on May 28, 2014, and 7:06 a.m. on May 29.[2] One message said, "nice view tonight[ ]very exciting dont you think?" She believed this message referred to the living room incident. Another message said, "it was nice seeing hair on your pussy when I walked in by accident today.[ ]remember erase these i will do what you want." She believed this message referenced the bedroom incident, though she did not believe the incident was an accident. Other messages requested a nude photo of her, asked about her sexual experiences, and said "guess what i am doing right now," "what do i get for getting you alcohol? head?" and "[I] wish you would come down and watch me shoot a load[ ]right now." She testified the messages made her feel "[d]isturbed" and "embarrassed," and she viewed them "as a type of invitation." She testified he had sent her more messages than those introduced at trial and she had responded to some of his messages.

         In February 2015, L.B. called A.G. and asked her to show the text messages to Beth. A.G.'s mother overheard the call, looked at the messages, and called the police. Some time before the investigation, A.G. testified she had deleted all of the original messages Ball had sent and her responses because "[t]hey were painful to keep." However, she kept screenshots-digital photographs of her screen-of Ball's messages to her on May 28 and 29, 2014, and she emailed the screenshots to the police. The screenshots do not include the ...

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