Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Pierce v. State

Court of Appeals of Iowa

May 15, 2019

SPENCER A. PIERCE, Applicant-Appellant,
v.
STATE OF IOWA, Respondent-Appellee.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Robert B. Hanson, Judge.

         Spencer Pierce appeals the denial of his application for postconviction relief.

          Heidi Young of Parrish Kruidenier Dunn Boles Gentry Brown & Bergmann L.L.P., Des Moines, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Katie Krickbaum, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State

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

          CARR, SENIOR JUDGE.

         Spencer A. Pierce appeals the denial of his application for postconviction relief (PCR). He argues his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to take several actions: (1) file a motion to suppress evidence from the search of an apartment; (2)properly argue the motion to suppress evidence from the search of a vehicle; (3)investigate a confidential informant; and (4) prepare for trial. We find Pierce has not shown prejudice by proving, but for counsel's claimed errors, he would have refused the plea bargain and proceeded to trial. Furthermore, he has not proven: (1) the warrant to search the residence was impermissibly tainted by evidence from an illegal search and seizure or from inaccuracies in the application; (2) the warrant to search the vehicle was improperly rejected or the vehicle would not run properly with the evidence in place; (3) evidence from the confidential informant was beneficial to him; or (4) a lack of preparation for trial by counsel caused him to plead guilty. Therefore, we affirm.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         On June 7, 2013, Des Moines police observed Pierce driving a Dodge Durango. Officers were searching for a similar Durango, Deanna Hood, and a man matching Pierce's appearance named "Spence" or "Spencer" in connection with a murder the previous day. Officers had also recently seen the Durango while investigating drug activity. An officer approached Pierce as he exited the Durango at an apartment complex. Pierce told the officer his name was "Spencer" and he lived in apartment twenty-three in the complex. The officer then detained him.

         Detective Brad Youngblut, who had been investigating the murder, soon arrived at the complex. He spoke to Pierce, who "was not completely uncooperative, but he wasn't exactly forthcoming." From their conversation, Detective Youngblut determined Hood was likely in apartment twenty-three. Without Pierce's consent, officers took Pierce to the apartment in search of Hood. No one answered when the officers knocked on the apartment door, so they used Pierce's keys to unlock the door. As officers used the correct key, Pierce yelled, "Flush the weed. They're coming in." Officers then transported Pierce and Hood to the police station for further questioning. Both at the apartment complex and the police station, Pierce said he wanted counsel. He was later held in jail on a parole violation.

         That same day, officers applied for-and received-a search warrant for Pierce's apartment and the Durango. Inside the apartment, officers found drugs and related paraphernalia, including baggies containing marijuana and methamphetamine. Officers also impounded the Durango that day.

         On July 9, Pierce was charged in FECR267109 with five counts of controlled-substance violations resulting from the search of his apartment and the previous drug investigation. He was later charged in FECR268032 with murder and robbery.

         On August 15, Detective Youngblut interviewed a confidential informant, who was imprisoned in Iowa. The informant said he met Pierce while they were in jail together. According to the informant, Pierce said drugs were still hidden in the "blower" of the Durango. Detective Youngblut requested a drug-sniffing dog to search the Durango, which remained in the impound facility. The dog detected an odor in the air filter in the open engine compartment. Officers opened the air filter and found baggies that appeared to contain methamphetamine. They returned the Durango to its prior state and later collected the drugs under a search warrant for the vehicle. The search resulted in Pierce being charged with three additional counts of controlled-substance violations in FECR269461.

         Pierce first proceeded to trial on the murder and robbery charges in FECR268032, and the jury returned a guilty verdict on both counts on November 6. On December 17, the court sentenced him to life in prison for murder in the first degree and twenty-five years in prison for robbery in the first degree, run concurrently.

         Meanwhile, Pierce pled not guilty to the eight total controlled-substance charges in FECR267109 and FECR269461. His counsel filed a motion to suppress evidence from the search of the Durango, and he filed a pro se motion to suppress evidence from the search of the apartment. The court denied both motions. On December 9, Pierce changed his plea to guilty on one count of conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance, in violation of Iowa Code section 124.401(1)(b)(7) (2013), from FECR267109. As part of a plea agreement, the remaining charges in FECR267109 and FECR269461 were dismissed. The court sentenced him to twenty-five years in prison for the conspiracy, run concurrent to his sentences for murder and robbery. This court later found insufficient evidence to support the murder and robbery convictions, resulting in dismissal of those charges. See State v. Pierce, No. 13-2004, 2015 WL 3613329, at *5 (Iowa Ct. App. June 10, 2015); see also State v. Hood, No. 13-1998, 2015 WL 3613243, at *11 (Iowa Ct. App. June 10, 2015) (affirming the murder and robbery convictions and sentence of Hood).

         On January 3, 2014, Pierce filed his application for postconviction relief from the conspiracy to deliver conviction. After amending his application twice, the matter proceeded to a hearing on October 17 and November 18, 2016. On June 6, 2017, the district court issued its ruling denying his application. He now appeals.

         II. ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.