from the Iowa District Court for Warren County, Kevin A.
Parker, District Associate Judge.
Vinsick Jr. appeals his conviction, sentence, and judgment of
forgery following a jury trial.
C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, and Mary K. Conroy,
Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Zachary C. Miller, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee.
Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Doyle and Bower, JJ.
a jury trial, Carlton Vinsick Jr. was found guilty of
forgery. He now appeals, challenging the sufficiency of the
evidence to support his conviction and the effectiveness of
his trial counsel's representation, among other things.
Upon our review, we vacate Vinsick's conviction,
judgment, and sentence, and we remand the case to the
district court for a new trial.
Background Facts and Proceedings.
morning of March 16, 2017, Indianola Police Officer Mesha
Wagner was dispatched to Peoples Bank to respond to a call
from the bank that a person in its drive-through was
attempting to deposit a possible forged check. Upon arriving,
Officer Wagner observed two men in a white van in the
bank's drive-through lane. The driver and owner of the
van was Joshua Carney. His passenger was Carlton Vinsick.
Carney had presented a check from the Sports Page Grill, a
local business, in the amount of $3150 for deposit in his
savings account at the bank. Carney had endorsed the check on
owners of the Sports Page Grill told the officer an
incomplete check had been left pinned to the bulletin board
for business staff to tender to Doll Distributors, a vendor
with a morning delivery scheduled, with "Doll"
written in the "pay to the order of" line, as well
as the date and the business owner's signature. The
amount of the check was to be written in by staff after the
delivery with the amount due to the vendor. The owners told
the bank personnel and the officer the check was not supposed
to be written to Carney or for that amount, and they did not
know how Carney came to have the check. The business owned a
2002 red Chevy 1500 work truck that was generally used for
"caterings and such."
Carney and Vinsick along with Tony Schmitt were each charged
with forgery in connection with the check, in violation of
Iowa Code sections 715A.2(1) and (2) (2017). The State's
theory of the crime was that Schmitt, an employee of the
cleaning company used by the Sports Page Grill, stole the
check from the business while he was cleaning during the
overnight hours of March 15 into March 16. After work the
morning of March 16, Schmitt met with Carney and Vinsick at
Vinsick's home, and the three conspired to forge the
check for $3150 and divide the money between them. To that
end, Carney drove to the bank with Vinsick to cash the check.
and Vinsick were tried jointly. Officer Wagner testified that
Carney gave a statement at the police station stating he had
been given the check the morning of March 16 for working on a
red truck while he was at Vinsick's home working on
Vinsick's vehicle. In his statement, Carney explained
that a friend of Vinsick's, whose name was either
"Jeff or Tony" and who worked at the Sports Page
Grill, had stopped by Vinsick's house while Carney was
there. In addition to "Jeff or Tony," there was
another guy named "Charlie or Craig" that "had
a Red Chevy 1/2 Ton Pickup [and] said he worked at the Sports
Page with this Jeff . . . . [H]e had his upper intake [and]
EGR valve clogged with Carbon." "Charlie or
Craig" asked how much Carney would
charge to work on his truck. At first [Carney] told him that
[he] really didn't have the time but he offered to pay
[Carney] well . . . . [Carney] thought all of those guy[s
knew] each other so [he] agreed to help this Craig or Charlie
. . . . [H]e said he [would pay Carney] double if [he] could
save him the trouble of paying a shop their rates. [H]e
couldn't pass it up so [he] did it [and] this Craig or
Charlie wrote [him] the check[, ] shook [his] hand saying
[Carney] saved him approximately $1800 [and] time compared to
a shop . . . . When this Jeff came back [to Vinsick's
after] working [Carney] told him about the guy with the Chevy
1/2 Ton because he was giving [Carney] crap about
[Vinsick's] truck [and] how it looked the same. [Carney]
shoved him . . . [and Vinsick] came [outside and Carney]
showed [Vinsick] the amount on the check [and Vinsick] said I
don't blame you. I wouldn't have passed that up
either. So as soon as the bank opened [Carney] went to cash
the check and had this [officer] questioning where [Carney]
got it [and] who gave it to [him].
described "Charlie or Craig" as being five foot six
to five foot eight inches tall, with dark hair and a goatee.
Carney indicated that "Charlie or Craig" was at
Vinsick's home the same time as "Jeff or Tony."
Wagner talked to one of the business's owners and
connected "Tony" to the cleaner, Tony Schmitt. The
officer obtained a copy of Schmitt's license photo and
showed it to Carney, and Carney "made a positive
ID." Officer Wagner confirmed that Carney was "sure
this [was] the gentleman that gave [him] the check," and
Carney said, "Yes, that's it. That's the
gentleman." The officer then told Carney the picture was
of Schmitt, and Carney "backtracked and said, 'Well,
I don't think that's him. The gentleman that was here
this morning with the truck had a hat on, so [Carney] really
[did not] know if that [was] him.'"
Wagner asked Vinsick about the mystery man in a red pickup
truck, and Vinsick reiterated a dark haired man with a goatee
and a red truck had been at Vinsick's residence that
morning, but Vinsick did not know the person. The officer
also talked to Schmitt, who told her he had been at
Vinsick's home that morning "after he had cleaned
the Sports Page and was there for approximately a half hour
and left." Schmitt told the officer he had not seen
anyone in a red pickup truck that morning or the check that
was allegedly given to Carney. The officer talked to Carney
again, and Carney "changed his story . . . and said
that, well, he didn't know if [red-truck man and Schmitt]
were [at Vinsick's] at the ...