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State v. Cassias

Court of Appeals of Iowa

September 25, 2019

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
ALAN RAY CASSIAS, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Mark R. Lawson, Judge.

         Alan Ray Cassias appeals his conviction and sentence for false imprisonment and sexual abuse in the third degree. CONVICTION AFFIRMED, SENTENCE AFFIRMED IN PART AND VACATED IN PART, AND REMANDED.

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

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Zachary Miller, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Considered by Potterfield, P.J., May, J., and Carr, S.J.[*]

          CARR, Senior Judge

         Alan Ray Cassias appeals his conviction and sentence for false imprisonment and sexual abuse in the third degree. He argues the district court erred in admitting phone records and in stating he may be assessed appellate attorney fees unless he requests a hearing to determine his reasonable ability to pay. We find the phone records were hearsay but their admission was cumulative and no prejudice resulted. Therefore, we affirm his conviction. However, the provision regarding appellate attorney fees is erroneous, and we vacate that provision and remand for entry of a corrected sentencing order.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         According to testimony from F.F., she was waiting to ride a bus to work on the morning of January 18, 2017, when Cassias approached her and offered to drive her. They had been platonic friends for about a year at the time. He picked her up and drove them to his apartment in Davenport because he said he needed "to grab something." After they entered his apartment, he choked her from behind with a scarf or similar object. She lost consciousness and awoke on his bed. He bound her wrists together with zip ties but later cut the ties. Threatening her with a knife, he ordered her to strip naked and engage in oral and vaginal sex. After intercourse, she persuaded him to drive her to work. She soon left work and went to the hospital, where she underwent an examination and spoke to a police officer.

         That evening, Davenport police obtained and executed a search warrant for Cassias's apartment. On January 20, an arrest warrant was issued for Cassias for his actions toward F.F. On January 23, law enforcement arrested and detained him in New Mexico. The next day, William Thomas, a detective with the Davenport police department, flew to New Mexico to interview Cassias and search his car. During a recorded interview, Cassias said F.F. called his cell phone the morning of January 18 and they had consensual sex later that day. Detective Thomas determined Cassias had two cell phones on or around January 18, with Sprint the provider for one and AT&T the provider for the other. Detective Thomas contacted both providers to obtain Cassias's phone records, which did not show a call between F.F. and Cassias on the morning of January 18.

         Cassias was charged and went to trial in Iowa beginning April 30, 2018. The State's witnesses included F.F. and Detective Thomas. The jury convicted Cassias of sexual abuse in the third degree and false imprisonment. See Iowa Code §§ 709.4, 710.7 (2017). The court sentenced him to terms of incarceration not to exceed ten years for sexual abuse and one year for false imprisonment, run consecutively, plus fines, surcharges, and costs. The court waived trial attorney fees due to his indigency and incarceration. The sentencing order also stated:

The Defendant is advised that if he determines to appeal this ruling, he may be entitled to court-appointed counsel to represent him in an appeal. The Defendant is advised that if he qualifies for court-appointed counsel, then he can be assessed the cost of the attorney when a claim for such fees is presented to the Clerk of Court following the appeal. The Defendant is further advised that he may request a hearing on his reasonable ability to pay these fees within thirty days of the issuance of the procedendo following the appeal. If the Defendant does not file a request for a hearing on the issue of his reasonable ability to pay court-appointed appellate attorney fees, the fees approved by the State Public Defender may be assessed in full to the Defendant.

         II. Standard of Review

         "We review a defendant's hearsay claims for correction of errors at law." State v. Reynolds, 746 N.W.2d 837, 841 (Iowa 2008). We review claims of an illegal sentence for correction of legal errors at ...


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