from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Mark R.
Keith appeals his convictions for robbery in the first degree
and willful injury resulting in bodily injury.
C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, (until withdrawal), and
Robert P. Ranschau, Assistant Appellate Defender, for
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Louis S. Sloven, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee.
Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., Tabor, J., and Gamble, S.J.
GAMBLE, Senior Judge.
a bench trial, the trial court found Seith Keith guilty of
robbery in the first degree, in violation of Iowa Code
section 711.2 (2017); and willful injury causing bodily
injury, in violation of Iowa Code section 708.4(2). On
appeal, Keith contends there is insufficient evidence that he
specifically intended to cause serious injury to the store
clerk, a requisite for conviction on each charge.
trial court thoroughly explained its findings:
[T]he court finds [Keith] purposely attempted to inflict a
serious injury on [the clerk]. He lunged at her through the
back door with the knife in his left hand, causing a
laceration to her right arm. He threatened her with the knife
as she kicked at him while lying on the floor. His aggressive
postures suggests he was attempting to inflict a serious
injury. He should not benefit by the fact that she was
successful in fighting him off.
In addition, the State has proven beyond a reasonable doubt
the second alternative of element no. 3, namely that [Keith]
was armed with a dangerous weapon. A "dangerous
weapon" is any device or instrument designed primarily
for use in inflicting death or injury, and when used
in its designed manner is capable of inflicting death. It is
also any sort of instrument or device actually used in such a
way as to indicate the user intended to inflict death or
serious injury, and when so used is capable of inflicting
death. By law, a knife with a blade exceeding five inches in
length is a dangerous weapon. Iowa Code § 702.7.
The court finds [Keith] was armed with a knife. Although
[Keith] denied that he was armed with a knife in his
testimony, he admitted he was so armed in his interview with
Detective Roloff. This is confirmed by the in-store
surveillance footage. The knife is clearly visible in
[Keith]'s left hand as he enters the store and in his
right hand while [the clerk] is on the floor. The blade is
also clearly visible when he approaches the cash drawer.
The State has proven . . . that [Keith] used this particular
folding knife in such a way as to indicate he intended to
inflict death or serious injury, and when so used is capable
of inflicting death. In reviewing the behind-the-counter
surveillance video frame-by-frame and in real time, [Keith]
entered the store immediately behind the clerk with the knife
in his left hand. She manages to fend the knife off with her
right hand and arm. He pushes her to the floor. He then
transfers the knife to his right hand and holds it in an
offensive position. She again fends him off; this time with
her feet. He then grabs her leg and pulls her out of view.
The defendant did not simply display the knife; he lunged at
her through the door and was in close enough proximity to
injure her with the knife. After pushing her to the floor, he
continued to display the knife in a threatening manner. If he
used it as he demonstrated, by stabbing or slashing, it is
capable of inflicting death. [The clerk] was able to fend
[Keith] off with her feet. [The clerk] testified that she was
afraid she might be killed. This was a reasonable belief
arising from [Keith]'s threatening actions with the
knife. He indicated to [the clerk] by his actions that he
intended to inflict death or serious injury. Therefore, the
State has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that [Keith] was
armed with a dangerous weapon.
trial court's findings of guilt are binding on us if they
are supported by substantial evidence. See State v.
Hearn, 797 N.W.2d 577, 579 (Iowa 2010). Evidence is
substantial if it would convince a rational factfinder that
the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. See
id. at 579-80. In determining whether substantial
evidence supports a conviction, ...