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State v. Winston

Court of Appeals of Iowa

October 9, 2019

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
KENNETH JEROME WINSTON, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Scott D. Rosenberg, Judge.

         Kenneth Winston appeals his sentences following his guilty pleas.

          Heidi Young of Parrish Kruidenier Dunn Boles Gentry Brown & Bergmann L.L.P., Des Moines, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Katie Krickbaum, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Doyle and Bower, JJ.

          DOYLE, JUDGE.

         Kenneth Winston pled guilty to willful injury, in violation of Iowa Code section 708.4(1) (2018) (a class 'C' felony); willful injury, in violation of Iowa Code section 708.4(2) (a class 'D' felony); and possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver as an habitual offender, in violation of Iowa Code sections 124.401(1)(c)(3), 902.8 and 902.9(1)(c) (a class 'C' felony). The district court sentenced Winston to ten, five, and fifteen-year terms of incarceration for his three convictions, ordering the sentences to run concurrent to each other but consecutive to Winston's sentence for his parole violation.[1]

         Winston appeals contending the sentencing court abused its discretion in ordering him to serve his willful-injury and possession sentences consecutive to his parole-violation sentence.[2] He argues the court failed to provide a sufficient explanation on the record as to why it ordered the sentences to run consecutive to his parole-violation sentence.

         We review Winston's sentencing challenge for an abuse of discretion. See State v. Seats, 865 N.W.2d 545, 552 (Iowa 2015) (stating a challenge to a sentence that is within the statutory terms is reviewed for an abuse of discretion). An abuse of discretion occurs when the evidence does not support the sentence. See State v. Valin, 724 N.W.2d 440, 445 (Iowa 2006). When the sentences imposed are within the statutory limits, they are "cloaked with a strong presumption" in their favor. State v. Formaro, 638 N.W.2d 720, 724 (Iowa 2002).

         Iowa Rule of Criminal Procedure 2.23(3)(d) establishes, "The court shall state on the record its reason for selecting the particular sentence." This applies to a district court's decision to impose consecutive sentences. See State v. Oliver, 588 N.W.2d 412, 414 (Iowa 1998). Our supreme court has reiterated the purpose of requiring the sentencing court to state its reasons for selecting a particular sentence on the record is to ensure "defendants are well aware of the consequences of their criminal actions" and, most importantly, to allow us "the opportunity to review the discretion of the sentencing court." State v. Hill, 878 N.W.2d 269, 273 (Iowa 2016) (quoting State v. Thompson, 856 N.W.2d 915, 919 (Iowa 2014)). A "terse and succinct" statement may suffice "when the reasons for the exercise of discretion are obvious in light of the statement and the record before the court." State v. Thacker, 862 N.W.2d 402, 408 (Iowa 2015). Furthermore, "courts should also explicitly state the reasons for imposing a consecutive sentence, although in doing so the court may rely on the same reasons for imposing a sentence of incarceration." Hill, 878 N.W.2d at 275.

         Winston asserts the sentencing court failed "to take into consideration [his] age and chances of reform. Rather, district court focuses only on the nature of the offense, [his] status on parole at the time of the offenses and the Court's belief [he] is a danger to the public." He contends the court's explanation for running his sentences consecutive to his parole violation sentence was inadequate. We disagree.

         At the sentencing hearing, the district court stated:

         The Court has reviewed the presentence investigation report. I have also taken into account the victim impact statements made here today. The Court observes that Mr. Winston is approximately 38 years old. The presentence investigation report states and lists numerous attempts of rehabilitation for [Winston]. All have, apparently, failed.

         In addition, the Court finds that there is indeed a pattern with a propensity to violence. The presentence investigation writer indicated that ...


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