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State v. Ware

Court of Appeals of Iowa

August 7, 2019

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
JONTESE L. WARE, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Linn County, Nicholas L. Scott, District Associate Judge.

         The defendant appeals his convictions for assault causing bodily injury.

          David R. Fiester of Law Office of David R. Fiester, Cedar Rapids, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Louis S. Sloven, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Tabor and May, JJ.

          TABOR, JUDGE.

         "[A] camera is not a witness that is amenable to cross-examination."[1]

         Yet Jontese Ware contends the district court erred by allowing the State to present photographs depicting injuries to an assault victim who did not testify at his trial. Ware now challenges admission of that evidence under the Confrontation Clause. Because the photographs are not testimonial statements, their admission did not violate Ware's right to confront witnesses against him. Finding the photographs are admissible, we affirm Ware's convictions for assault causing bodily injury.

         I. Facts and Prior Proceedings

         A shopping trip to Walmart with his girlfriend and their two children turned into trouble for Ware. As Ware's family walked toward the store, Y.D. drove her car into the Walmart parking lot. Y.D. had two passengers: M.D. and A.F.

         The path of Ware's family intersected with Y.D.'s route. In her testimony, Y.D. recalled slamming on her brakes as "two small children ran across the parking lot." Passenger M.D. told Ware to "get your kids." Ware delivered a crass rejoinder, and M.D. responded in kind.

         The encounter became physical when Ware "snatched" A.F. from the front seat and slammed the door on her foot, according to Y.D.'s testimony. Y.D. saw Ware punch both M.D. and A.F. M.D. confirmed Ware struck her twice in the face, requiring a trip to the hospital for stitches. A.F. also went to the hospital, because "her top lip was gashed really, really bad," according to M.D.

         As a result of these events, the State charged Ware with two counts of assault causing bodily injury against M.D. and A.F. At his jury trial, Y.D. and M.D. testified; A.F. did not. Because A.F. did not appear, Ware objected to the State's offer of two photographs showing A.F.'s injuries allegedly suffered in the altercation. Ware argued the photographs are inadmissible hearsay and violate his right to confrontation. The district court rejected Ware's arguments and allowed the jury to see those photographs. M.D. testified the photographs reflected A.F.'s appearance after Ware's assault. The jury found Ware guilty as charged. Ware appeals.[2]

         II. Scope and ...


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