from the Iowa District Court for Warren County, Mark F.
Schlenker, District Associate Judge.
Finck appeals the denial of his motion for a new trial.
Patrick W. O'Bryan, Des Moines, for appellant.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Kevin Cmelik, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee.
Considered by Tabor, P.J., and Mullins and Bower, JJ.
evidence presented at trial establishes the following.
Timothy Bryan is a business owner. At the time of these
events, Bryan owned a trailer he used for the business, which
he stored adjacent to the alley running behind the building
in which his business is located. Bryan maintains a
motion-activated surveillance camera in this area. The
footage captured by the camera shows that at
approximately 1:06 a.m. on July 3, 2017, Jasiah
Finck backed his Jeep Wrangler into the area
where Bryan stored his trailer. Just before 1:10 a.m., Finck
walked toward the alley from the area where the trailer was
parked. Just before 1:16 a.m., Finck returned to the area
where he backed the Jeep into, making eye contact with the
surveillance camera while doing so. More than two hours
later, at 3:25 a.m., an unobservable person walked underneath
the camera and spray painted over its lens from below. Bryan
testified, had Finck left the area in his Jeep between the
time he arrived and the time the camera was painted, the
surveillance camera would have recorded it.
Bryan arrived at work later that morning, he noticed his
trailer was missing. Bryan went inside to view his
surveillance footage and noticed the lens on the camera in
the rear of the building had been spray painted. Bryan
proceeded to review the recording from the camera, after
which he provided the footage to law enforcement and posted
it on social media. Finck's father, Kirk, testified at
trial that on the morning of July 3, friends and another of
Kirk's children advised him of the video on social media
and of Finck's potential involvement. Kirk viewed the
videos, identified Finck as the individual depicted in them,
and called Bryan and law enforcement to "help resolve
the issue." The trailer has never been located.
was ultimately charged by trial information with theft in the
second degree. A jury found him guilty as charged. Finck
filed a motion for a new trial, arguing "there was
insufficient evidence to convict." The district
court considered the motion as a weight-of-the-evidence
challenge and rejected it. Finck appeals that ruling. On
appeal, he implies a greater amount of credible evidence
supports a conclusion that he was not the perpetrator of the
review the district court's denial of a motion for a new
trial on weight-of-the-evidence grounds for an abuse of
discretion, our most deferential standard of review. See
State v. Neiderbach, 837 N.W.2d 180, 190 (Iowa 2013);
see also State v. Roby, 897 N.W.2d 127, 137 (Iowa
2017). 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 Ellis, 578 N.W.2d at
658-59). "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 658).
our review is limited to "the exercise of discretion by
the trial court, not of the underlying question of whether
the verdict is against the weight of the evidence."
Neiderbach, 837 N.W.2d at 211 (quoting
Reeves, 670 N.W.2d at 203). Upon our review of the
evidence, we are unable to say the district court abused its
discretion in denying Finck's new-trial motion upon its
conclusion that the evidence did not preponderate heavily
against the verdict. The court expressly concluded a greater
amount of evidence supported the State's theory of the
case. Although the State's case was partially
circumstantial, the jury was expressly instructed the
"law makes no distinction between the weight you may
give to either direct or circumstantial evidence."
See State v. Tyler, 873 N.W.2d 741, 752 n.8 (Iowa
2016) (noting "instructions, if not objected to, become
the law of the case"). Finding no abuse of discretion,
we affirm the district court's denial of Finck's
motion for a new trial.