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State v. Hilliard

Court of Appeals of Iowa

October 10, 2018

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
SEAN MICHAEL HILLIARD, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Dubuque County, Monica L. Wittig, Judge.

         Sean Hilliard appeals his conviction for sexual abuse in the second degree.

          Mark C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, and Melinda J. Nye, Assistant Appellate Defender, and Nicholas A. Jones (until withdrawal), Law Student, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Timothy M. Hau, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Considered by Vogel, P.J., Tabor, J., and Mahan, S.J. [*]

          VOGEL, PRESIDING JUDGE.

         Sean Hilliard appeals his conviction for sexual abuse in the second degree. Through his appellate counsel, he argues his trial counsel was ineffective on several grounds. In a pro se brief, he also argues his jury was not drawn from a fair cross-section of the community and the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction. We find the evidence is sufficient to support his conviction, he did not preserve his jury-composition argument, and we cannot evaluate his ineffective-assistance claims on the record before us. Therefore, we affirm his conviction and preserve his ineffective-assistance claims for potential postconviction proceedings.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         On July 24, 2016, S.C., who was eight years old at the time, went to Hilliard's home in Dubuque for a playdate with Hilliard's son. S.C. attended a summer program with Hilliard's son, and Hilliard was a coach for this program. The playdate was originally planned for a few hours, but S.C. spent the night after Hilliard told S.C.'s mother he could not find a ride that night. S.C. slept in Hilliard's home that night with Hilliard, his son, and another male described as the son's uncle.[1]

         Hilliard lived in a one-bedroom apartment, which S.C. described as "[o]ne room with everything." The room contained two beds side-by-side. At a certain point in the night, the group began playing video games, including a game S.C.'s mother explicitly forbade him from playing. After playing video games, SC and Hilliard watched a zombie movie and a samurai movie while in one bed. Hilliard's son and the uncle slept in the other bed during the movies. S.C. testified that during one of the movies Hilliard put his hand under S.C.'s clothes, touched S.C.'s "privates, "[2] moved his hand on S.C.'s privates like he was "trying to grab it off," and put his mouth on S.C.'s privates. S.C. further testified Hilliard removed his hand after S.C. told him to stop three or four times and that Hilliard later said to keep the touching a secret. On cross-examination, SC testified Hilliard tickled him before touching his privates, which made him laugh, but Hilliard's son and the uncle never woke during the incident.

         Hilliard returned S.C. to his home on the morning of July 25. Hilliard told S.C.'s mother that he had been up all night playing video games. The mother believed S.C. had been suspended from his summer program, so he stayed home with her that day.[3] S.C. slept most of the morning, but his mother thought he acted normal that afternoon. Early that evening, SC suddenly stopped in a doorway with an expression that his mother described as having "something horrid inside of him that he needed to say." S.C. testified he then told his mother that Hilliard "told me a secret I can't tell, and she asked why, and I said, I can't tell, and then that's when I told her, and the secret." The mother made S.C. take a shower "to get all that dirt and disgust off of him," and she took him to the police that night to file a report. On August 5, SC spoke to Rachel Haskin, a forensic interviewer who works with children who report abuse. On August 18, Hilliard voluntarily spoke to Dubuque Police Officer Chris Gorrell.

         On September 21, 2016, the Dubuque County Attorney filed a trial information charging Hilliard with sexual abuse in the second degree. On May 16, 2017, his jury trial began. On May 18, the jury convicted him of sexual abuse in the second degree. On July 14, he filed a motion for new trial and a motion in arrest of judgment raising insufficient-evidence and jury-composition claims, which the court denied. The court ultimately sentenced him to a term of incarceration not to exceed twenty-five years plus fees, costs, and additional terms. He now appeals, raising his ineffective-assistance claims through his appellate counsel and his jury-composition and insufficient-evidence claims in his pro se brief.

         II. Standard of Review

         "We review claims of ineffective assistance of counsel de novo." State v. Clay, 824 N.W.2d 488, 494 (Iowa 2012). We review constitutional issues regarding jury composition de novo. State v. Plain, 898 N.W.2d 801, 810 (Iowa 2017). We review insufficient-evidence claims for ...


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