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Cropp v. State

Court of Appeals of Iowa

August 21, 2019

RONDELL MANDRAY CROPP, Applicant-Appellant,
v.
STATE OF IOWA, Respondent-Appellee.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Black Hawk County, Bradley J. Harris and Andrea J. Dryer (second dismissal), Judges.

         The applicant appeals from the dismissal of his application for postconviction relief following his 2007 convictions for robbery in the first degree and willful injury causing serious injury.

          C. Aron Vaughn of Kaplan & Frese, LLP, Marshalltown, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Sharon K. Hall, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

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

          POTTERFIELD, PRESIDING JUDGE.

         Rondell Cropp appeals the dismissal of his application for postconviction relief (PCR) following his 2007 convictions for robbery in the first degree and willful injury causing serious injury. He maintains the PCR court improperly dismissed his application without giving him notice of its intention to do so or allowing him an opportunity to respond.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

         In March 2006, Cropp was arrested and charged with robbery in the first degree and willful injury causing serious injury. The incident in which Cropp was alleged to have participated took place in January 2006-about one month before Cropp's nineteenth birthday.

         Cropp entered into a plea agreement with the State, which provided that he would be allowed to plead guilty to robbery in the second degree and willful injury causing serious injury and serve concurrent jail terms in exchange for his full cooperation and testimony against all codefendants. The agreement, which the district court accepted, included a clause that the agreement would become null and void if Cropp "fail[ed] to satisfactorily complete the" terms of the agreement.

         During a later deposition of Cropp in connection with pending charges against a codefendant, the prosecutor announced Cropp had breached the plea agreement and the State was withdrawing from it.

         The State filed a motion for a status hearing on the plea agreement, and, after the hearing, the district court granted the State's motion to vacate the agreement. In its written ruling, the court found:

[Cropp] gave statements to law enforcement on January 23, 2006, February 28, 2006, and March 2, 2006. Additionally, [Cropp] gave a deposition on December 22, 2006. The statements made by [Cropp] in the deposition constitute the basis for the State's application to revoke the plea agreement.
In [Cropp's] deposition he substantially contradicts statements he earlier made in the three interviews with law enforcement. Specifically[, ] in the deposition [he] stated he and his co-defendants had planned to acquire one-quarter pound of marijuana from the victim for $2500. In his statements to law enforcement investigators he had indicated that he and friends intended to acquire one-quarter pound of marijuana for $1100. In his deposition [Cropp] also answered questions in such a fashion as to, reasonably interpreted, provide protection for Tyler, Seals and David Wright. Defense counsel characterizes the differences between the deposition testimony and the law enforcement investigative report statements as being because of alleged t[h]reats made by Seals against [Cropp] at the time of the taking of the deposition.
The court finds the statements contained in the deposition are materially at odds with relevant statements in the law enforcement investigative statements. [Cropp's] substantial contradictions place the State at a disadvantage in that [Cropp] has now given statements, which if the State ...

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