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Magee v. State

Court of Appeals of Iowa

January 9, 2019

KEISHA L. MAGEE, Applicant-Appellant,
v.
STATE OF IOWA, Respondent-Appellee.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Black Hawk County, David P. Odekirk, Judge.

         Keisha Magee appeals the denial of her application for postconviction relief.

          Mark C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, and Ashley Stewart, Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Zachary Miller, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

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

          BOWER, JUDGE.

         Keisha Magee appeals the denial of her application for postconviction relief (PCR) claiming PCR counsel committed two structural errors in her case. She alternatively claims she was provided ineffective assistance of counsel. We find Magee has not established structural error occurred during the postconviction trial and her ineffective-assistance claims brought on appeal for the first time should be asserted in a separate application.

         I. Background Facts & Proceedings

         In the early morning hours of September 29, 2013, Magee went to a friend's home believing her paramour, John Bass, was on the premises. Magee had a history of assaulting Bass, and a no-contact order was in place protecting Bass from Magee. The friend indicated Bass was not at the house and then allowed Magee in to use the restroom. Magee had been drinking and using illegal substances that evening. Magee found Bass in an upstairs room. They went downstairs and argued. Magee punched Bass. Magee then went to the kitchen, got a knife, and stabbed Bass in the chest in front of two witnesses. Bass died from the wound.

         Magee turned herself in at the police station later that day. She was highly emotional and was sent to the hospital for the night when she exhibited breathing difficulties.

         In November, the State charged Magee with first-degree murder. Magee entered into a plea agreement with the State and pleaded guilty to second-degree murder on April 4, 2014. Magee waived her presentence investigation report and requested immediate sentencing. She was sentenced to the statutory indeterminate sentence of not more than fifty years imprisonment with a mandatory minimum of thirty-five years. She did not appeal.

         On June 25, 2014, Magee filed an application for PCR counsel but no application for PCR. She was appointed counsel on July 3, and different counsel was appointed on November 17, for reasons unrelated to Magee's case. A Iowa Rule of Civil Procedure 1.944 notice of dismissal was generated on July 21, 2015. An application for PCR was filed December 18, 2015, along with a renewed request for counsel. The application alleged Magee "was not in [the] right state of mind to make [a] decision on any plea agreement." Magee's requested relief was to renegotiate her plea deal or for a new trial to present new evidence.

         On January 7, 2016, the court dismissed the action by operation of rule 1.944, but PCR counsel filed a motion to reinstate the petition, which was granted on February 5, 2016. Trial was scheduled and rescheduled several times, finally taking place on January 16, 2018. Magee appeared by phone and testified. Magee's trial counsel also testified. The district court denied Magee's application for PCR on March 29. She appeals.

         II. ...


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