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Doornink v. State

Court of Appeals of Iowa

May 1, 2019

SCOTT ALLEN DOORNINK, Applicant-Appellant,
STATE OF IOWA, Respondent-Appellee.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Johnson County, Marsha Bergan, Judge.

         Scott Doornink appeals the district court's denial of his application for postconviction relief.

          John W. Pilkington of Nidey Erdahl Fisher Pilkington & Meier, PLC, Marengo, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Louis S. Sloven, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

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

          MULLINS, JUDGE.

         Scott 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.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         In 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.[1]

         Detective 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.[2] 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 hide."

         At 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.

         Doornink was arrested roughly two weeks later. He was charged by trial information with third-degree sexual abuse and supplying alcohol to a minor.[3] In October, Doornink pled guilty to third-degree sexual abuse under an age-differential theory. See Iowa Code § 709.4(2)(c)(4) (2011).[4] 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.

         In 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.

         Doornink's 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 ...

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