from the Iowa District Court for Johnson County, Marsha
Doornink appeals the district court's denial of his
application for postconviction relief.
W. Pilkington of Nidey Erdahl Fisher Pilkington & Meier,
PLC, Marengo, for appellant.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Louis S. Sloven, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
Considered by Tabor, P.J., and Mullins and Bower, JJ.
Doornink appeals the district court's denial of his
application for postconviction relief (PCR), contending the
court erred in rejecting his claim that his trial counsel
rendered ineffective assistance in failing to move to
suppress evidence concerning alleged improperly induced
statements he made to law enforcement.
Background Facts and Proceedings
March 2011, Doornink was fifty years old. At this time, J.R.,
a fifteen-year-old girl, was friends with Doornink's son,
who lived with Doornink. On the evening in question, J.R.
visited Doornink's residence, where his son was hosting a
social gathering. At his son's request, Doornink went out
to buy alcohol for the gathering. Doornink went on a second
alcohol run later in the evening. At some point, Doornink
began speaking to J.R.; he told her he had just been to a
strip club and his wife recently passed away. Doornink told
J.R. there was something in the bedroom he needed to show her
about his deceased wife. J.R. went to the bedroom with
Doornink. She then recalled waking up naked. One of
J.R.'s friends came to the residence and, upon looking in
the bedroom, observed J.R. and Doornink lying in the bed,
naked. The friend accused Doornink of wrongdoing; Doornink
retorted it was his house and his room and he could do what
he wanted to. J.R. put on some of Doornink's clothes and
the friend took her home. Shortly thereafter, J.R.'s
mother notified law enforcement J.R. had been sexually
assaulted at Doornink's residence while she was
intoxicated. J.R. went to the hospital, and a rape kit was
administered. Law enforcement obtained a search warrant for
Doornink's residence. Officers found J.R.'s clothing
in the home.
Richardson was one of the officers involved in executing the
search warrant. Doornink agreed to speak with Richardson and,
later in the day, Doornink reported to the sheriff's
department on his own volition, where he was interviewed by
Richardson. The interview commenced at roughly 3:52
p.m. Richardson advised at the outset the interview was just
an "informational gathering thing" and related
"you're not going to get arrested at any time,
you're free to get up and walk out, just like you walked
in. . . . You can stop this at any time." Doornink
replied, "I'm here because I've got nothing to
first, Doornink generally denied any wrong doing. Doornink
acknowledged J.R. consumed vodka and was intoxicated but
denied knowing where she obtained the alcohol. Richardson
advised Doornink that he already knew Doornink was not being
honest and related if he was not honest his credibility would
"start going down the hill." Upon questioning about
J.R., Doornink stated she was drinking and got "really
flirty," and when he went to bed she came into his
bedroom. Initially, Doornink reported there was "some
clothing removal," but "nothing happened."
Doornink clarified his clothes were already off because he
sleeps naked, and J.R. "started taking some of her
clothes off" without his assistance and "got
completely naked," after which "there was a little
kissing and that was it, nothing else happened." Upon
further questioning, Doornink noted he "possibly"
put his mouth on J.R.'s breast. Richardson advised of the
potential for DNA swabbing of J.R.'s breast and revisited
the issue of credibility with Doornink, noting, "Your
truthfulness of this is gonna probably weigh a bit with the
county attorney with what ultimately comes down the pike, so,
again, you know you can say one thing, but evidence is going
to point another way. . . . You're trying to get this all
squared away." Doornink then conceded he put his mouth
on J.R.'s breast. Richardson then asked if Doornink
penetrated J.R.'s vagina with his finger; Doornink
responded, "Probably." Richardson then advised,
"Your honesty and everything else with this whole
episode is going to carry so you might as well just say what
transpired because I already know a lot of things from [the]
hospital, so I am trying to see how honest you're going
to be with me." Doornink then conceded he penetrated
J.R.'s vagina with his finger, noting it was consensual.
Richardson then went into whether Doornink engaged in
genital-to-genital contact with J.R., noting "Your
truthfulness, again, is going to be a big part of this."
Doornink denied that circumstance and continued to do so
during the remainder of the interview. The interview
concluded at 4:26 p.m., and Doornink was allowed to leave.
was arrested roughly two weeks later. He was charged by trial
information with third-degree sexual abuse and supplying
alcohol to a minor. In October, Doornink pled guilty to
third-degree sexual abuse under an age-differential theory.
See Iowa Code § 709.4(2)(c)(4)
(2011). The plea agreement did not include a
stipulation as to sentencing recommendations. The matter
proceeded to immediate sentencing. The State requested the
imposition of a term of incarceration, and Doornink requested
a suspended sentence and probation. The court sentenced
Doornink to, among other things, a term of incarceration not
to exceed ten years.
October 2013, Doornink filed his PCR application. Following a
number of continuances, a PCR trial was held in December
2017. Doornink generally argued his counsel rendered
ineffective assistance in failing to move for suppression of
his confession to law enforcement on the ground that it was
improperly induced with promises of leniency.
counsel in the criminal proceedings died before the PCR trial
and was therefore unable to testify. Doornink testified he
and his trial attorney never discussed his interview with
Richardson or about potentially filing a motion to suppress
the statements he made therein. He additionally testified he
chose to plead guilty because his counsel advised him he
would probably get probation, although counsel made clear
probation instead of a term of imprisonment was not a
guarantee. He testified, looking back, he would have insisted
on going to trial if his statements to Richardson were
suppressed. However, he confirmed on cross-examination that
he "had a pretty substantial motivation" to resolve
the case in a way that he not be sentenced to prison, as he
had a good job and two children he did not want to leave on
their own, as his wife had ...