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State v. Sumerall

Court of Appeals of Iowa

August 15, 2018

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
PATRICK EARL SUMERALL, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Black Hawk County, Joel A. Dalrymple, Judge.

         Patrick Sumerall appeals the sentences imposed upon his guilty pleas to conspiracy to commit a forcible felony and carrying weapons.

          Mark C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, and Nan Jennisch, Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Sheryl A. Soich, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Doyle and Mullins, JJ.

          MULLINS, JUDGE.

         Patrick Sumerall appeals the sentences imposed upon his guilty pleas to conspiracy to commit a forcible felony and carrying weapons. He claims the court improperly considered the unproven crime of robbery in the first degree when determining his sentences.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         In April 2017, Patrick Sumerall was charged by trial information with conspiracy to commit a forcible felony[1] and carrying weapons. In October, Sumerall agreed to plead guilty to the charges. During the plea hearing, Sumerall admitted to conspiring with several people to rob a check-cashing business and gathering weapons to use during the robbery. The court accepted Sumerall's guilty pleas and set his sentencing for a later date.

         During the sentencing hearing, the State recommended consecutive sentences of a ten-year term of incarceration for the conspiracy offense and a two-year term of incarceration for the carrying-weapons offense. Sumerall requested a deferred judgment. The presentence investigation report (PSI) recommended Sumerall receive a suspended sentence and be committed to the supervision of the Department of Corrections for two to five years. The court denied Sumerall's request for a deferred judgment and sentenced him to an indeterminate term of incarceration not to exceed ten years for the conspiracy offense and an indeterminate term of incarceration not to exceed two years for the carrying-weapons offense, to run concurrently.

         Sumerall appeals, claiming the court impermissibly relied upon the unprosecuted offense of robbery in the first degree and unadmitted acts committed during the conspiracy in formulating the ordered sentences. He contends references made by the court in the sentencing colloquy demonstrated the court's focus was on the intended crime rather than the actual crimes to which he pled guilty.

         II. Discussion

         Our review is for the correction of errors at law. State v. Sailer, 587 N.W.2d 756, 758 (Iowa 1998). "Sentencing decisions of the trial court are cloaked with a strong presumption in their favor." State v. Loyd, 530 N.W.2d 708, 713 (Iowa 1995). We will not upset a sentence on appeal "unless the defendant demonstrates an abuse of trial court discretion or a defect in the sentencing procedure, such as trial court consideration of impermissible factors." Sailer, 587 N.W.2d at 758-59. "An abuse of discretion will not be found unless we are able to discern that the decision was exercised on grounds or for reasons that were clearly untenable or unreasonable." State v. Formaro, 638 N.W.2d 720, 724 (Iowa 2002).

         It is "important to consider the host of factors that weigh in on the often arduous task of sentencing a criminal offender, including the nature of the offense, the attending circumstances, the age, character and propensity of the offender, and the chances of reform." Id. at 724-25. However, sentencing courts "may not rely upon additional, unproven, and unprosecuted charges unless the defendant admits to the charges or there are facts presented to show the defendant committed the offenses." Id. at 725. "A sentencing court may consider unprosecuted offenses in imposing sentences only if admitted by the defendant or adequate facts are ...


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