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State v. Smith

Court of Appeals of Iowa

January 23, 2019

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
JACOB LEE SMITH, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Des Moines County, Michael J. Schilling, Judge.

         Jacob Smith appeals his convictions for theft in the second degree and burglary in the third degree, both as a habitual offender. AFFIRMED.

          Jeffrey L. Powell of Powell and McCullough, PLC, Coralville, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Bridget A. Chambers, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Considered by Vogel, C.J., Vaitheswaran, J., and Mahan, S.J. [*]

          MAHAN, SENIOR JUDGE

         Jacob Smith appeals his convictions for theft in the second degree and burglary in the third degree, both as a habitual offender, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence supporting the jury's guilty verdict and arguing the district court abused its discretion by denying his motion for new trial based on newly discovered evidence.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         Smith worked at Kemper's True Value hardware store in Burlington on December 12, 2015, until closing. Later that evening, two men entered the store, stole the store's safe from under the front counter, and stole the specific key needed to open the safe. The store's bookkeeper discovered the theft the next business day when she went to fill the cash registers' drawers.

         Investigators suspected employee involvement based on the circumstances of the theft: (1) there was no forced entry, (2) the thieves knew to find the safe under the front counter and behind a door instead of in the store's office, and (3) the thieves knew the exact key needed to open the safe out of a large collection of keys. Although the store's security camera was pushed up and toward the ceiling during the theft, it briefly captured images of the men at the bottom of its frame. One of the men on the security footage wore the same clothing Smith wore to work that day. Investigators showed another True Value employee the security footage. She instantly identified Smith as one of the men in the footage based on the distinctive way he wore his pants to reveal the upper portion of his buttocks.

         Eventually, police executed a search warrant at Smith's home and did not find the safe or any of its contents. However, when officers arrived, Smith was wearing the same coat he wore to work on December 12, which matched the coat worn by the thief identified as Smith by the True Value employee. Officers also seized Smith's cell phone. It showed he had been in consistent contact with his wife throughout the day on December 12 except from 7:01 p.m. to 7:36 p.m.-the time of the theft.

         Smith was arrested and charged with theft in the second degree, in violation of Iowa Code sections 714.1(1) and 714.2(2) (2015), and burglary in the third degree, in violation of sections 713.1 and 713.6A(1). A jury convicted Smith of both crimes, and he now appeals.

         II. Standards of Review

         We review challenges to the sufficiency of the evidence for correction of errors at law. State v. Howse, 875 N.W.2d 684, 688 (Iowa 2016). On appellate review, we consider the evidence "in the light most favorable to the State, including all reasonable inferences that may be fairly drawn from the evidence. We will uphold a verdict if substantial record evidence supports it." See State v. Showens, 845 N.W.2d 436, 440 (Iowa 2014) (quoting State v. Romer, 832 N.W.2d 169, 174 (Iowa 2013)). "Evidence is substantial when 'a rational trier of fact could conceivably find the ...


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