review from the Iowa Court of Appeals.
from the Iowa District Court for Delaware County, Thomas A.
for postconviction relief appeals a district court decision
denying her claim for ineffective assistance of counsel.
L. Wassmer of Wassmer Law Office, P.L.C., Marion, for
J. Miller, Attorney General, Tyler J. Buller and Susan
Krisko, Assistant Attorneys General, and John W. Bernau,
County Attorney, for appellee.
appeal from a ruling by the district court that denied an
application for postconviction relief, we consider whether a
factual basis existed for the element of confinement to
support a plea of guilty to the crime of kidnapping in the
second degree. The court of appeals affirmed the decision of
the district court. On further review, we vacate the decision
of the court of appeals, reverse the decision of the district
court, and remand the case for further proceedings. We
conclude a factual basis to support the confinement element
of the crime of kidnapping is not established by evidence
that the defendant impeded the victim's movement by
pointing a handgun at the victim for a period of time before
shooting and killing him.
Background Facts and Proceedings.
Ann Sauser and Terry Sauser were married for twelve years.
Their marriage was plagued for years by discord and strife.
On April 3, 2011, Revette shot Terry with a handgun. The
incident occurred as Terry was sitting in a chair in the
living room of their home. He was intoxicated, and a verbal
altercation ensued. Revette retrieved a handgun located in
the house and concealed it on her person. She then pulled the
gun out and pointed it at Terry for a period of time before
the verbal altercation abruptly ended when the gun was fired.
Revette then called emergency responders to report that she
shot Terry. Terry died shortly after law enforcement officers
arrived at the home.
was charged by trial information with murder in the first
degree in violation of Iowa Code section 707.2 (2011). A plea
bargain was reached between the State and Sauser shortly
before trial was to begin. Pursuant to the plea bargain, the
State amended and substituted the trial information to charge
Sauser with kidnapping in the second degree in violation of
section 710.3, voluntary manslaughter in violation of section
707.4, and going armed with intent in violation of section
then entered a plea of guilty to the three charges on
February 1, 2012. She also waived her right to file a motion
in arrest of judgment, and the case proceeded to immediate
sentencing. The district court sentenced Sauser to
twenty-five years of incarceration for the kidnapping
conviction, ten years' incarceration for the voluntary
manslaughter conviction, and five years for a
going-armed-with-intent conviction. The court ordered the
sentences be served consecutively.
subsequently filed an application for postconviction relief.
Among other claims, she asserted her trial counsel was
ineffective for permitting her to plead guilty to the
kidnapping charge because no facts were presented to show
that she committed the essential element of confinement.
years of legal maneuvering, a hearing was held on the
postconviction relief claim. Her original trial counsel
testified he believed the confinement element was established
because Sauser told him she pointed the gun at the victim
"for some time" before discharging it. The plea
colloquy was also made a part of the postconviction relief
record. During the plea colloquy, Sauser acknowledged she
took the gun into the living room knowing she was "going
to confine Terry," and she used the gun "to keep
[Terry] confined in that space."
district court found Sauser was not denied effective
assistance of counsel. It denied her application for
postconviction relief. It found a factual basis for
confinement existed to support the plea of guilty and further