from the Iowa District Court for Dubuque County, Thomas A.
Minifee appeals his conviction and sentences for first-degree
murder and first-degree robbery. AFFIRMED.
D. Tindal of Keegan Tindal & Mason, Iowa City, for
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Louis S. Sloven, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee.
Considered by Vogel, C.J., Vaitheswaran, J., and Carr, S.J.
found Tacari Trevon Minifee guilty of first-degree murder and
first-degree robbery in connection with the invasion of a
mobile home and the subsequent shooting of one of the
occupants. On appeal, Minifee argues (1) his attorney was
ineffective in failing to challenge a modified procedure for
communicating with counsel at a jail as being in violation of
his constitutional right to counsel, (2) his attorney was
ineffective in failing to seek a merger of his sentences, and
(3) the district court erred in permitting a law enforcement
officer to identify him in a photo.
Iowa Supreme Court addressed the question of barrier-free
contact in State v. Robinson, 859 N.W.2d 464, 486-87
(Iowa 2015). The court found no broad right to such contact
under Iowa Code section 804.20 (2016). Robinson, 859
N.W.2d at 486-87. The court declined to address the
defendant's constitutional challenge to the absence of
contact after concluding error was not preserved.
Id. at 487.
challenged the original contact procedures of the jail in
which he was housed and obtained an order modifying the
procedure. However, he failed to challenge the modified
procedure. Accordingly, the issue must be reviewed under an
ineffective-assistance-of-counsel rubric. The record is
inadequate to resolve the issue on direct appeal. See
State v. Harris, 919 N.W.2d 753, 754 (Iowa 2018)
("If the record is insufficient to allow for a review on
direct appeal, we do not reach the issue on direct appeal and
allow the defendant to raise the claim in a separate
postconviction-relief action."). Accordingly, we
preserve the claim for a possible postconviction-relief
action. See id.
to the district court's failure to merge his sentences
for first-degree robbery and first-degree murder. Minifee
asks us to compare the jury instructions for each crime and
conclude "it was impossible for the jury to convict
[him] of Murder without also convicting him of robbery."
raises the issue as an ineffective-assistance-of-counsel
claim because his trial attorney did not preserve error in
the district court. But, as the State concedes, an illegal
sentence may be challenged at any time. State v.
Love, 858 N.W.2d 721, 723 (Iowa 2015) ("A district
court's failure to merge convictions as required by
statute results in an illegal sentence. Such claims may be
raised at any time."). Accordingly, the issue need not
be reviewed under an ineffective-assistance-of-counsel
rubric. We proceed to the merits.
State v. Heemstra, 721 N.W.2d 549, 558 (Iowa 2006),
the Iowa Supreme Court held "if the act causing willful
injury is the same act that causes the victim's death,
the former is merged into the murder and therefore cannot
serve as the predicate felony for felony-murder
purposes." The court has not extended the rule to the
predicate felony of robbery. See State v. McCoy, No.
14-0918, 2016 WL 3269458, at *5-6 (Iowa Ct. App. June 15,
2016). We decline Minifee's invitation to take this step.
We affirm Minifee's sentences for both crimes.
final argument is premised on the district court's
admission of a law enforcement officer's in-court
identification of him in a photo. He contends the officer
"had no greater knowledge of [the photograph] than a
photograph captured a distant view of a person in jeans and a
jean jacket. Defense counsel objected to the officer's
testimony about the photograph on the ground there was no
foundation and the officer's identification of Minifee
"invade[d] the province of the jury." The district
court summarily ...