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Puckett v. State

Court of Appeals of Iowa

October 10, 2018

COLBY RAY PUCKETT, Applicant-Appellant,
v.
STATE OF IOWA, Respondent-Appellee.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Mills County, James M. Richardson, Judge.

         Colby Puckett appeals the denial of his application for postconviction relief.

          Marti D. Nerenstone, Council Bluffs, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Kevin Cmelik, Israel J. Kodiaga, and Kelli A. Huser (until withdrawal), Assistant Attorneys General, for appellee State.

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

          DANILSON, CHIEF JUDGE.

         Colby Puckett appeals the denial of his application for postconviction relief (PCR). Because Puckett's plea was knowingly and voluntarily entered and he has failed meet his burden to show plea counsel was ineffective, the district court did not err in denying his application.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

         Puckett pled guilty to second-degree murder. On appeal, this court rejected his contention that plea counsel was ineffective in allowing him to plead guilty to a charge without an adequate basis, noting the record was sufficient to support an inference of malice aforethought. State v. Puckett, No. 14-0250, 2015 WL 3884870, at *4 (Iowa Ct. App. June 24, 2015). The supreme court denied further review on August 27, 2015.

         Puckett then filed a PCR application, claiming plea counsel provided ineffective assistance and he did not enter a voluntary and intelligent guilty plea. At the PCR trial, Puckett continued to challenge his plea of guilty, arguing he did not have "malice aforethought." Puckett testified,

I mean, now I know a lot more than what I did upon being able to research here in prison, but during the time I didn't know or understand all the facts surrounding the second-degree murder plea or the first-degree murder for that matter. I felt like I was doing the right thing at the time, you know, doing what my-I was supposed to listen to my attorney; you know, he was supposed to guide me in the right way. Had I known then what I know now, I don't think I would have accepted the plea.
Q. And what did you discover that changed your mind?
A. The malice aforethought issue, just the fact that in order for a second-degree conviction to stand there has to be proof of intent, which is malice aforethought. I told my attorney numerous times that I never intended to hurt her. He met with the judge and came out and told me that that's what I had to say, which is why I said it.
. . . .
Q. Bottom line for malice aforethought, though, the judge told you during the hearing that it meant that-even if you did not intend to kill the child, you did intend to cause some harm to the child, is that right?
A. Correct.
. . . .
Q. Do you recall the acts themselves?
A. Yes.
Q. What would any person believe would happen to the child given what you did to her?
A. It would probably be hurt ...

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