from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Odell G. McGhee
II, District Associate Judge.
Edwards appeals his criminal conviction following the denial
of his motion for a new trial. AFFIRMED.
Eshelman, Ankeny, for appellant.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Tyler J. Buller, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee.
Considered by Tabor, P.J., and Mullins and Bower, JJ.
a jury trial, Donovan Edwards was convicted of operating
while intoxicated, third offense. Edwards moved for a new
trial, arguing the verdict is contrary to the weight of the
evidence. After reviewing the record, the district court
denied the motion.
appeals, contending the district court abused its discretion
in denying his motion for a new trial because the jury
verdict was contrary to the weight of the evidence. We review
the district court's denial of a motion for a new trial
on weight-of-the-evidence grounds for an abuse of discretion.
See State v. Neiderbach, 837 N.W.2d 180, 190 (Iowa
2013). An abuse of discretion will only be found where
"the district court exercised its discretion on grounds
or for reasons clearly untenable or to an extent clearly
unreasonable." State v. Reeves, 670 N.W.2d 199,
202 (Iowa 2003). Where a claim is made that the verdict is
contrary to the weight of the evidence, "the verdict may
be set aside and a new trial granted" if "the court
reaches the conclusion that the verdict is contrary to the
weight of the evidence and that a miscarriage of justice may
have resulted." State v. Serrato, 787 N.W.2d
462, 472 (Iowa 2010) (quoting State v. Ellis, 578
N.W.2d 655, 658-59 (Iowa 1998)). "A verdict is contrary
to the weight of the evidence where 'a greater amount of
credible evidence supports one side of an issue or cause than
the other.'" State v. Shanahan, 712 N.W.2d
121, 135 (Iowa 2006) (quoting Ellis, 578 N.W.2d at
jury was instructed the State was required to prove the
following elements: (1) Edwards operated a motor vehicle and
(2) he was under the influence of alcohol at the time. On
appeal, Edwards only challenges the weight of the evidence in
relation to the first element, that he operated the motor
vehicle in question.
trial evidence includes the following. On March 25, 2017,
three witnesses outside of a bar-Nicole, Elizabeth, and
Mike-observed a white truck collide with another vehicle in
the bar's parking lot. The white truck began to back up
as if it was going to leave the scene, so Mike yelled at the
person in the truck. All three witnesses testified Edwards
was driving the white truck when it collided with the other
vehicle. They also testified Edwards emerged from the truck
and advised the vehicle he ran into belonged to a friend of
his who would not care about the damage. Ultimately, a verbal
altercation ensued between Mike and Edwards. Nicole called
the police, who arrived on the scene shortly thereafter.
Nicole, and Elizabeth testified Edwards was driving the white
truck, they did not observe anyone else in the truck, and
they did not see anyone else exit it after Edwards got out.
Mike and Elizabeth added there was nothing to obstruct their
view of who was driving the white truck. Elizabeth
specifically testified she could see inside the white truck
when it collided with the other vehicle, and Edwards was the
sole occupant. Nicole testified she was under the influence
of alcohol but was not intoxicated to the point that she
could not comprehend what was going on at the time of these
events, or recall them at the time of trial. Mike testified
he had consumed alcohol but he was not intoxicated or
otherwise impaired. Elizabeth also consumed alcohol the night
in question but testified she was not impaired. All three
witnesses testified they did not know Edwards beforehand and
did not see him inside the bar before the collision.
McVey was one of the officers dispatched to the
scene. Upon his arrival, he made contact with
Edwards, who was exiting the white truck. Edwards reported to
McVey that his girlfriend, Chanel Wilson, was the one driving
the truck and she fled the scene on foot. Edwards was unable
to provide McVey with any contact information for Wilson,
advising she got a new cell phone that same day and she is a
meth addict so she probably could not be found. Edwards
explained the witnesses were just "trying to start
shit." On cross-examination at trial, McVey conceded he
never observed Edwards operate the motor vehicle, obviously
because the police were not called until after the collision.
The video footage admitted into evidence at trial depicts
Edwards as belligerent and highly intoxicated.
defense witness, Natalie, testified she, at some point in the
evening, observed a female exit a white truck that was
"parked oddly close and kind of diagonal to the front
door" in the bar's parking lot. She then observed
Edwards get out and get in the driver's side of the
truck. Natalie testified on cross-examination she was not
entirely sure if the female was ever in the white truck. She
then observed someone approach Edwards and begin arguing with
him, upon which she went back inside the bar. She testified
she did not observe the collision. She also testified her
view of the white truck was obstructed and defense
counsel's relation of the facts to her prior to trial
"jogged [her] memory as to what happened because [she]
forgot all about it."
testified on his own behalf. He testified he had been working
all day and in the evening he and Wilson decided to go to the
bar. He had Wilson drive because he had already consumed
alcohol and had taken muscle relaxers. Edwards testified
while in the bar, Mike continuously directed derogatory
comments toward Edwards and Wilson. Edwards and Wilson
decided to leave, and Edwards directed Wilson, "pull the
truck around, I'll be right out." After paying his
tab, Edwards went to the parking lot and observed Wilson
"up by the street running" and his truck just
"sitting there." Edwards began to approach the
truck, but then heard Mike yelling at him to not leave the
scene. After an exchange of words with Mike, Edwards returned
to his truck and took the key out of the ...