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State v. Eubanks

Court of Appeals of Iowa

December 5, 2018

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
KATRINA EUBANKS, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Scott D. Rosenberg, Judge.

         Defendant appeals her convictions for neglect of a dependent person and dependent-adult abuse resulting in injury.

          Mark C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, and Robert P. Ranschau, Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Linda J. Hines, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Considered by Tabor, P.J., and Mullins and Bower, JJ.

          BOWER, JUDGE.

         Katrina Eubanks appeals her convictions for neglect of a dependent person and dependent-adult abuse resulting in injury. We find the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Eubanks's post-plea motion for new counsel. We affirm the district court.

         I. Background Facts & Proceedings

         From 2015 to 2017, Eubanks was employed as a caregiver for A.B., a young adult female with cerebral palsy. A.B. is unable to take care of herself. On May 28, 2017, Eubanks filled a bathtub with scalding hot water. Outside Eubanks's supervision, A.B. got into the bath and sustained second-degree burns. Eubanks did not seek medical attention for A.B. for five days or disclose the burns to A.B.'s family or her employer. Following A.B.'s injuries, Eubanks drove A.B. to Florida without telling anyone where they were going, using only over-the-counter ointment to treat A.B.'s burns. A.B.'s burns turned septic before Eubanks sought medical assistance for her in Florida. A.B., who had blisters all over her body, was hospitalized for two weeks. The hospital discovered a piece missing from A.B.'s feeding tube, which Eubanks stated had been missing for a while and instead she had been feeding A.B. apple sauce.

         On October 29, the State charged Eubanks with one count of kidnapping in the first degree, in violation of Iowa Code sections 710.1(4) and .2 (2017), and two counts of neglect of a dependent person, in violation of section 726.3. Eubanks entered into a plea agreement with the State and on February 9, 2018, pleaded guilty to the two counts of neglect of a dependent person and an amended count of dependent-adult abuse resulting in injury. At the plea hearing, Eubanks initially decided not to enter a plea but changed her mind and accepted the plea offer after a short recess. As part of the plea, the parties jointly recommended consecutive sentences.

         In a letter written February 12 and received by the court on February 27, Eubanks requested a new attorney simply stating, "I am not happy with my representation" and suggesting alternate counsel. In a second letter dated February 27, Eubanks renewed her request claiming her counsel had been dishonest and provided erroneous instruction regarding her plea. The court treated the letters as a motion to change representation; following a hearing, the court denied Eubanks's request. The court entered judgment and sentence on March 28, imposing three consecutive terms of ten years on each count to be served concurrent to a sentence imposed by the state of Florida. Eubanks appeals the district court's denial of her post-plea request for a new attorney.

         II. Standard of Review

         "The decision to grant a motion for substitute counsel is a matter within the trial court's discretion." State v. Tejeda, 677 N.W.2d 744, 750 (Iowa 2004). "To establish an abuse of discretion, [a defendant] must show that 'the court exercised the discretion on grounds or for reasons clearly untenable or to an extent clearly unreasonable.'" State v. Lopez, 633 N.W.2d 774, 778 (Iowa 2001) (quoting State v. Maghee, 573 N.W.2d 1, 5 (Iowa 1997)).

         III. ...


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