from the Iowa District Court for Cerro Gordo County, Chris
defendant appeals his conviction for second-degree murder.
Alfredo Parrish and Adam C. Witosky of Parrish Kruidenier
Dunn Boles Gribble Gentry Brown & Bergmann, Des Moines,
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Darrel Mullins and Douglas
Hammerand, Assistant Attorneys General, for appellee.
Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Tabor and Bower, JJ.
found Larry Whaley guilty of murder in the second degree. The
verdict followed the State's evidence showing Whaley
fired three shots through his closed apartment door-the first
shot killed Samantha Teeter. On appeal, Whaley contends the
State offered insufficient evidence to prove he acted with
malice aforethought and without justification. Whaley also
argues his trial counsel was ineffective for not further
investigating an insanity defense and his competency to stand
the record in the light most favorable to the verdict, we
find substantial evidence to sustain the second-degree murder
conviction. But because Whaley's claims of ineffective
assistance involve questions of trial strategy and the record
is inadequately developed to address those questions, we
preserve them for possible postconviction-relief proceedings.
Facts and Prior Proceedings
early morning hours of December 2, 2016, Samantha Teeter and
her boyfriend, Kaleb Van Scyoc, knocked on the door of
Whaley's apartment. Rather than opening the door or
asking who was there, Whaley shot three times. Van Scyoc
heard a loud slapping noise, and when he turned to look at
Teeter, he saw "this whole side of her face was
shooting culminated a chaotic day. On the morning of December
1, Whaley "evicted" Cory and Heather Mays from his
apartment with the assistance of Mason City police. Cory was
upset about moving out and kept a key to the apartment so he
could retrieve their belongings. Whaley believed Cory
possessed a gun.
same day, Whaley hung out with Debra Ewing. Ewing, who met
Whaley three weeks earlier, had a past relationship with
Jason Bendickson. She was staying with a friend because she
feared Bendickson. When Bendickson tracked down Ewing at the
friend's home, Whaley picked her up in his car.
in day, Whaley and Ewing met up with Teeter and Van Scyoc.
The foursome drove around in Whaley's car, making several
stops. At one stop, Whaley purchased a revolver, telling
Ewing it would protect her from Bendickson. Then they stopped
at Walmart to buy ammunition and a cellphone for Ewing.
Around 9:40 p.m., Whaley rented a room at the Days Inn to
conceal Ewing from Bendickson. But soon Ewing said she would
rather spend the night at Whaley's apartment, so they
left. With Teeter and Van Scyoc, they returned to
Whaley's apartment. Whaley urged Ewing to return to the
motel "because he didn't want to kill anybody"
that night-"his words," Ewing clarified-but Ewing
prevailed upon him to stay at the apartment.
handed Teeter a key to his apartment. Teeter, Van Scyoc, and
Ewing went inside while Whaley went out for groceries. Teeter
and Van Scyoc left before Whaley returned. Ewing told Whaley
Teeter would be back. Meanwhile, Ewing stretched out on the
couch to sleep. Whaley sat by her feet, with the gun on
his lap-Ewing assumed he was protecting her.
around 3:40 a.m. when Teeter and Van Scyoc returned to the
apartment. Van Scyoc testified he thought Teeter tried to
knock. Eventually, Teeter used Whaley's key to unlock the
door. Then Van Scyoc knocked and called out, "It's
Kid," his nickname. Inside the apartment, Whaley woke
Ewing up, saying "somebody's at the door."
Whaley then stood up and shot the gun toward the door.
interview with police, Whaley recalled standing about five
feet from the door when he fired the first shot. "He
said it was a warning shot." Whaley then fired two more
shots through the door and told Ewing to call 911. Whaley
told police "he was hoping that it was Cory Mays"
on the other said of the door. Ewing testified she believed
Bendickson was the person trying to enter the apartment. In
fact, Teeter was behind the door, and Whaley's first
bullet fatally wounded her.
State initially accused Whaley of first-degree murder, but
amended the charge to second degree. During the prosecution,
Whaley filed many letters with the court as a
self-represented party. The court originally appointed public
defender Susan Flander to represent Whaley, but Flander
withdrew due to a conflict of interest. Michael Adams