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State v. Beck

Court of Appeals of Iowa

April 3, 2019

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
RODNEY D. BECK, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Henry W. Latham II (trial), Judge, and Mark R. Fowler (sentencing), District Associate Judge.

         Rodney Beck appeals from his convictions for driving while barred and driving while suspended.

          Eric D. Tindal of Keegan Tindal & Mason, Iowa City, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Thomas J. Ogden, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Considered by Potterfield, P.J., Bower, J., and Mahan, S.J. [*]

          MAHAN, SENIOR JUDGE.

         On June 1, 2017, Detective Joshua Paul, who was familiar with Rodney Beck, observed Beck enter a rented vehicle as the lone occupant and drive to several locations. Beck was subsequently charged with driving while barred and two counts of driving while under suspension.

         At trial, Beck stipulated he was barred from driving and that his driving privileges were suspended for failure to pay fines and to post security for an accident. Malcom Mitchell, the brother of Beck's paramour, was described in opening statements as bearing "an extremely striking resemblance to Rodney Beck." Mitchell testified for the defense that it was he who had been the driver of the vehicle on June 1. Mitchell testified he was "driving around" as he "had stuff to do that day." He could not remember where he went other than HyVee. Defense counsel had Mitchell and Beck stand next to one another and face the jury. The jury found Beck guilty as charged.

         Beck appeals from his convictions, asserting his trial counsel was ineffective in failing to object to testimony by Detective Paul. He also contends the district court failed to provide adequate reasons for the sentences imposed.

         Ineffective assistance of counsel.

         We review ineffective assistance claims de novo. State v. Straw, 709 N.W.2d 128, 133 (Iowa 2006). To succeed in such a claim, the defendant must prove that counsel failed to perform an essential duty, and prejudice resulted. Id.

         Relevant evidence is admissible. Iowa R. Evid. 5.402. As conceded by the defense at trial, it was "highly relevant" how Detective Paul was able to identify Beck and why the detective observed Beck for four hours.[1] Beck contends, however, counsel failed to object to the detective's testimony on rebuttal concerning a stop the surveilled vehicle made at Carter's Quality Tires. He contends the testimony was presented to create a "strong suggestion from the State that the purpose of the driving behavior was to commit unrelated criminal acts that the jury would convict Beck as a bad person." However, the evidence was relevant for other purposes.

         Mitchell testified that only he drove the rented vehicle on June 1 and he could not remember where he drove. It was for the jury to determine whether Mitchell's testimony was credible. See State v. Harrington, 178 N.W.2d 314, 315 (Iowa 1970) (noting it is the jury's ...


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