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State v. Gipson

Court of Appeals of Iowa

August 1, 2018

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
OSCAR MARCO GIPSON, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Robert J. Blink (trial and sentencing) and Scott D. Rosenberg (verdict), Judges.

         Oscar Marco Gipson appeals his conviction by jury trial for going armed with intent on sufficiency-of-the-evidence grounds.

          Mark C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, and Robert P. Ranschau, Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.

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

          Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Vogel and Tabor, JJ.

          TABOR, Judge.

         Oscar Marco Gipson sprayed the front of a Des Moines pub with bullets shot from a semiautomatic rifle. He contends the State did not prove he intended to use the weapon against another person-an element of going armed with intent. Considering all of the evidence in the light most favorable to the jury's verdict, we find substantial proof of Gipson's intent. Accordingly, we affirm his conviction.

         I. Facts and Prior Proceedings

         In January 2017, Gipson and his girlfriend, Tara Nguyen, were arguing "more often than usual." Nguyen went to stay with her mother for a few weeks. Around the same time, Nguyen let an old friend borrow her Buick. When Gipson saw the friend driving, Gipson took the Buick from him.

         On January 21, the friction between Nguyen and Gipson escalated when they encountered each other at the Beaver Tap. Gipson came into the bar with several friends and asked to talk with Nguyen outside. Gipson yelled at Nguyen, asked who she was with, and told her to leave. Nguyen left, heading across the street to Saints Pub. Gipson and his friend, Derrick Peoples, watched Nguyen go into the pub. Peoples said Gipson then went to his car, took his AK-74 semiautomatic rifle[1] out of the trunk, and started shooting toward the pub. Unbeknownst to Gipson, Nguyen had already left Saints Pub after calling a friend to pick her up. She left through the back door, not visible to Gipson.

         Gipson's shooting sounded like a "mag dump" according to the description from a witness who was drinking at another nearby bar that night. The witness testified: "Somebody emptied a semiautomatic rifle. It wasn't a pistol. I could tell the difference." A bartender at Saints Pub heard sounds like "pops" that prompted everyone in the bar drop to the floor. Television screens inside the bar were hit. Several windows and the bar's external garage doors also bore bullet holes. Bullets damaged four cars in the pub's parking lot. Investigators determined twenty-five bullet casings recovered from the scene came from an AK-74 semiautomatic rifle.

         Gipson fled the scene, but law enforcement later connected him to the shooting through reports from his friends at the bar. Officers also recovered the semiautomatic rifle, which Nguyen identified as belonging to Gipson. The State charged Gipson with two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm; one count of going armed with intent; one count of intimidation with a dangerous weapon; two counts of criminal mischief; and one count of reckless use of a firearm. A jury returned guilty verdicts on all counts except for intimidation with a dangerous weapon. The court sentenced Gipson to imprisonment not to exceed twenty-seven years.

         On appeal, Gipson contends the evidence was insufficient to convict him of going armed with intent, in violation of Iowa Code section 708.8 (2017).

         II. ...


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