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State v. Hammer

Court of Appeals of Iowa

October 24, 2018

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
SAVANNAH DAWN HAMMER, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Odell G. McGhee II, District Associate Judge.

         A defendant appeals her convictions and sentences for two counts of third-degree theft.

          Joanne Cook of Cook Law Firm, PLLC, Urbandale, for appellant.

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

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

          POTTERFIELD, PRESIDING JUDGE.

         Savannah Hammer appeals her convictions and sentences for two counts of third-degree theft in violation of Iowa Code section 714.2(3) (2017). Hammer argues her trial counsel was ineffective for allowing her to plead guilty to a charge for which there was no factual basis and for failing to investigate. In the alternative, Hammer argues her claims should be preserved for postconviction relief.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

         Hammer was charged by trial information of taking merchandise from a discount department store on February 23 and February 26, 2017. The minutes of testimony reveal that on February 23, an employee witnessed a suspect place items into her purse and walk out of the store without paying. The suspect left in a black Ford Focus with temporary paper plates from Area Auto Sales and heavy damage to the front of the car. The suspect was described as a white female with brown hair between the ages of thirty and forty.

         On February 26, an employee witnessed a suspect place shirts into a bag and leave without paying. The suspect left in a black Ford Focus with temporary paper plates from Area Auto Sales. The suspect was described as a white female with red hair, in her twenties, five feet and five inches tall, and weighing one hundred and thirty pounds. The employee described the suspect from the February 26 theft as the same suspect from February 23.

         A sales employee for Area Auto Sales identified Hammer as the purchaser of the vehicle from a photo taken of the suspect and the vehicle during the theft. Records confirmed Hammer was the purchaser of the vehicle. The vehicle described was parked in front of Hammer's home when she was arrested. Hammer was charged and pled guilty to stealing from the store on both occasions.

         Hammer appeals.

         II. Standard of Review.

         Ineffective assistance of counsel claims are reviewed de novo. State v. Finney, 834 N.W.2d 46, 49 (Iowa 2013). Ineffective-assistance claims are normally preserved for postconviction relief actions, but we will address them on ...


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