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Petithory-Metcalf v. State

Court of Appeals of Iowa

September 12, 2018

MIRANDA PETITHORY-METCALF, Applicant-Appellant,
v.
STATE OF IOWA, Respondent-Appellee.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, William P. Kelly, Judge.

         Applicant appeals the district court decision denying her application for postconviction relief from her conviction for second-degree murder.

          Gordon E. Allen, Johnston, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Bridget A. Chambers, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Bower and McDonald, JJ.

          BOWER, JUDGE.

         Miranda Petithory-Metcalf (Petithory) appeals the district court decision denying her application for postconviction relief from her conviction for second-degree murder. We conclude Petithory has not shown she received ineffective assistance due to defense counsel's strategic decision to withdraw a motion to suppress a videotape. We affirm the district court's decision denying Petithory's application for postconviction relief.

         I. Background Facts & Proceedings

         On November 28, 2013, Juan Carlos Chavarria got drunk and broke some bottles in the apartment he shared with Irvan Alfaro-Hernandez (Alfaro). Petithory, who was a friend of Alfaro's, came into the apartment and got mad, stating, "nobody disrespect this homie's apartment." Petithory confronted Chavarria and they began shouting at each other. Petithory told Chavarria, "You don't know me and you don't know what I'm capable of." Petithory stabbed Chavarria with a switch blade in front of several witnesses and he died as a result.

         Petithory was given a ride to the police station in the vehicle of Officer David Cerne. A videotape (Videotape A) was made of Petithory as she sat in the back of the squad car. She told Officer Cerne she did not see what happened and was in the bedroom looking for her car keys at the time. She was crying during the drive. At the police station, Petithory was placed in an interview room by herself, where another videotape was made (Videotape B). She made several telephone calls.

         Petithory was charged with first-degree murder for the stabbing death of Chavarria. She raised defenses of justification and intoxication. Petithory filed a motion to suppress the two videotapes. The district court ruled Videotape A was not admissible because Petithory had not been informed of her Miranda rights at the time the statements were made. The court ruled the majority of Videotape B was admissible. During the trial, Petithory's two defense attorneys decided to withdraw the motion to suppress Videotape A and both videotapes were shown to the jury.

         Petithory was convicted of murder in the second decree, in violation of Iowa Code section 707.3 (2013), a class "B" felony. Petithory's conviction was affirmed on appeal. State v. Petithory-Metcalf, No. 14-1478, 2016 WL 530241, at *10 (Iowa Ct. App. Feb. 10, 2016). The issue of whether Petithory received ineffective assistance when defense counsel withdrew the motion to suppress was preserved for possible postconviction proceedings. Id.

         Petithory filed an application for postconviction relief on February 17, 2017, claiming she received ineffective assistance of counsel based on the withdrawal of the motion to suppress.

         In a deposition, one of the defense attorneys stated the motion to suppress was withdrawn because the court had ruled Videotape B was admissible. The attorney testified, "The first statement that Miranda gave when she was in the police car, while she's crying and seems more sympathetic to the jury, the problem with that video [Videotape A] is she's lying about what happened." Concerning Videotape B, however, she stated Petithory seemed to be "a despicable person," "very unflattering," "very aggressive," and "used a lot of profanity." In Videotape B, Petithory "was just very ...


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