from the Iowa District Court for Adair County, Martha L.
Mertz (plea) and Terry R. Rickers (sentencing), Judges.
Ueligger appeals his sentences for vehicular homicide.
C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, and Stephan J. Japuntich,
Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Kelli A. Huser, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee.
Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Bower and McDonald, JJ.
E. Ueligger appeals his sentences for two counts of vehicular
homicide. On appeal, Ueligger contends his trial counsel was
constitutionally ineffective for failing to object to the
inclusion of three of the victim impact statements submitted.
Background Facts and Proceedings
November 2, 2016, Ueligger operated a vehicle while under the
influence of multiple controlled substances. Ueligger's
vehicle crossed the center line on a highway and struck a
vehicle carrying four women. Two women, Dawn Christensen and
Norma Caltrader, died as a result of the accident. The other
two women, Marilyn Ehrsam and Betty Schultz, were seriously
February 14, 2017, the State charged Ueligger with two counts
of vehicular homicide and two counts of serious injury by
motor vehicle, in violation of Iowa Code sections 707.6A and
July, Ueligger and the State entered into a plea agreement
where Ueligger would plead guilty to the two vehicular
homicide counts and the State would dismiss the serious
injury by motor vehicle charges. The parties did not reach an
agreement as to sentencing, leaving them free to argue for
concurrent or consecutive sentences. On August 21, Ueligger
pled guilty to the two vehicular homicide charges as agreed
and admitted to driving under the influence of four different
types of controlled substances.
sentencing hearing was held October 19. Twelve victim impact
statements, both oral and written, were provided to the
sentencing court. Two of these statements were from Ehrsam
and Schultz. A third statement came from Helen Nevins, the
cousin of one of the deceased victims. The court sentenced
Ueligger to two consecutive twenty-five-year terms of
imprisonment and to pay restitution to all individuals
involved. The remaining two counts were ordered to be
dismissed if the pleas were not appealed. Ueligger appeals
his sentence only.
Standard of Review
claims he was provided ineffective assistance of counsel at
his sentencing. Claims of ineffective assistance are
generally preserved for postconviction relief, but we will
consider them on direct appeal if the record is adequate.
State v. Lopez, 872 N.W.2d 159, 169 (Iowa 2015).
Because ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claims implicate