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State v. Ruiz

Court of Appeals of Iowa

August 7, 2019

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
BRANDON D. RUIZ, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Joel W. Barrows (motion to amend trial information) and Tom Reidel (trial), Judges.

         The defendant appeals from his conviction of sexual abuse in the second degree. AFFIRMED.

          Mark C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, (until withdrawal), and Theresa R. Wilson, Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Thomas E. Bakke, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Doyle and May, JJ.

          POTTERFIELD, PRESIDING JUDGE.

         Brandon Ruiz appeals from his conviction of sexual abuse in the second degree following a trial to the bench. Ruiz maintains the district court erred by allowing the State to amend the trial information to add wholly new or different charges after the speedy-indictment deadline had passed.

         Based on the filing of a criminal complaint alleging Ruiz had sexually abused A.R., a four-year-old child, Ruiz was arrested on October 15, 2016.

         A trial information was filed on November 15, alleging that "on or about the 20th day of September, 2015, [1] . . . [Ruiz] did commit sexual abuse upon A.R., a child under the age of twelve in violation of Section 709.3(1)(b) of the Code of Iowa."

         Then, on March 29, 2017, the State filed a motion to amend the trial information to charge seven counts of second-degree sexual abuse "to reflect that different acts of sex abuse are alleged to have occurred over time." All seven of the proposed new counts were alleged to have occurred between November 2015 and September 2016. None of the proposed new counts appear to correlate to the date in the original trial information. The seven counts in the amended trial information allege specific sex acts, unlike the original trial information that alleged sexual abuse, although each is based on an alleged violation of Iowa Code section 709.3(1)(b). The State relied on the original minutes of testimony provided with the original trial information.

         A hearing on the motion to amend took place on April 12. On April 26, at a second hearing, the court granted the State's motion, and the trial information was amended so as to include seven different counts of sexual abuse in the second degree. Additionally, the court granted Ruiz's motion to continue trial.

         The trial to the bench took place almost one year later-on April 23, 2018. The court convicted Ruiz of one of the seven counts of sexual abuse in the second degree, concluding the State proved one instance of sexual contact between Ruiz's genitalia and A.R.'s mouth as alleged in count V of the amended trial information. Ruiz was acquitted of the six other charges. He was later sentenced to a term of incarceration not to exceed twenty-five years.

         Iowa Rule of Criminal Procedure 2.4(8)(a) provides:

The court may, on motion of the state, either before or during the trial, order the indictment amended so as to correct errors or omissions in matters of form or substance. Amendment is not allowed if substantial rights of the defendant are prejudiced by the ...

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