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State v. Martinez

Court of Appeals of Iowa

August 1, 2018

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
MARCO IMANUEL MARTINEZ, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Muscatine County, John D. Telleen, Judge.

         Marco Martinez appeals his conviction for criminal mischief in the second degree.

          Nathan M. Legue of Legue Law, P.C., Davenport, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Kyle P. Hanson, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Considered by Vogel, P.J., Tabor, J., and Carr, S.J. [*]

          VOGEL, PRESIDING JUDGE.

         Marco Martinez appeals his conviction for criminal mischief in the second degree. He argues the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction and the district court abused its discretion when it admitted a photograph as evidence. We affirm the conviction.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         On the morning of February 13, 2017, George and Barbara Pinter were asleep inside their home in a rural subdivision in Montpelier, Iowa. Around 1:30 or 2:00 a.m., Barbara was awakened by a strange noise, but she soon fell back asleep. When they woke for the day a few hours later, they realized a bullet had gone through their master bedroom. Later that day, law enforcement officers noted four bullet holes in the front of the house facing the road. Officers found five shell casings on that road and an intact bullet in the bedroom, all of which came from .22 caliber ammunition. The casings were spread across the ground, which suggests they were ejected one-by-one from a semi-automatic weapon. The casings had a large "C" stamped in their base, which is synonymous with CCI brand ammunition. The bullets caused a little more than $2000 in damage to the Pinters' house.

         Later that day, law enforcement officers searched a house several miles away in Muscatine. Officers performed an initial protective sweep, a consent search, and, ultimately, a search pursuant to a warrant. During the consent search, Officer Andy Fry and Detective John Hesseling, both with the Muscatine Police Department, found a backpack, a loaded firearm, and some adult diapers on the floor of a bedroom closet. The backpack contained a partial box of .22 caliber CCI brand ammunition. The firearm was a semi-automatic .22 caliber pistol. Based on prior interactions, Officer Fry knew Marco Martinez wore adult diapers. Detective Hesseling acknowledged he did not know who lived in the bedroom attached to the closet.

         Martinez was not known to be an owner of the Muscatine house, and Officer Fry did not believe he lived at the house at the time. Martinez was one of six persons at the house when officers arrived. During the search, Martinez chose to remain in the house's backyard and converse with a detective. Martinez said he had a birth defect and showed the detective the surgical scars on his abdomen and the adult diaper he wore because of the defect. The detective told Martinez they had found ammunition and adult diapers inside the house, at which point Martinez said he did not want to talk anymore.

         The State charged Martinez with criminal mischief in the second degree. He proceeded to a jury trial beginning June 5, 2017. During trial, the State offered a photograph of the closet in the Muscatine house and its contents as evidence. Martinez objected to the photograph because it did not show the condition of the closet when officers arrived. While Officer Fry and Detective Hesseling both testified about the closet, Officer Fry acknowledged another officer had unloaded the firearm according to protocol before taking the photograph, and Detective Hesseling acknowledged he was not the first person to search the closet. The court admitted the photograph.

         The State also presented testimony from Brennen Salmieri. According to his testimony, Salmieri drove to a motel in Muscatine on the night of February 12 or early February 13 to pick up a friend, Martinez, and another man. He did not know Martinez or the other man at the time. Salmieri then drove the four of them around the area, with his friend in the front-passenger-side seat, Martinez in the rear-driver-side seat, and the other man in the rear-passenger-side seat. At one point, he drove on the road past the Pinters' house, though he did not know the area or the street names until investigators later showed him a map. He then heard gunshots from both rear windows, including one gunshot from Martinez directly behind him. He believed both men had fired guns out of the rear windows, but he never saw the guns and the men had their hands in their laps when he turned around to look. He soon returned everyone to the motel. At trial, he acknowledged he was currently in jail for his actions that morning. He did not have an agreement with the State to testify, though he was told his testimony would be taken into consideration in resolving his case.

         The jury found Martinez guilty of criminal mischief in the second degree. The court sentenced him to a term of incarceration not to exceed five years plus a suspended fine, ...


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