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State v. Trimble

Court of Appeals of Iowa

October 9, 2019

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
BROOKE LYNN TRIMBLE, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Black Hawk County, Jeffrey L. Harris, District Associate Judge.

         A defendant appeals her sentence for domestic abuse assault and violation of a no-contact order.

          Jesse M. Marzen and Cynthia Tofflemire of Marzen Law Office, P.L.L.C., Waverly, for appellant.

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

          Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Tabor and Bower, JJ.

          Tabor, Judge.

         The sentencing court described Brooke Trimble's serious-misdemeanor assault of her boyfriend as "somewhat of a reverse Me Too situation" before imposing a term of 365 days, all but fifteen days suspended, and one to two years supervised probation. Trimble asks to be resentenced, alleging the court's remarks signaled its consideration of improper factors. She also argues the sentence was grossly disproportionate to the crime.

         In our review, we find the court's "reverse Me Too" analogy revealed its reliance on an unprosecuted and unproven charge. Accordingly, we vacate Trimble's sentences for domestic abuse assault and the no-contact order violation and remand for resentencing before a different judge.

         I. Facts and Prior Proceedings

         A neighbor summoned law enforcement to the residence of Brooke Trimble and her boyfriend, B.M., in November 2017 after hearing screaming and banging inside. B.M. told the responding deputy he and Trimble "got into an argument that morning" and Trimble slapped him while he was holding their infant son. He also said Trimble tackled him, held him down on the bed, and tried to remove his clothes. B.M. said he refused Trimble's sexual advances and was relieved when the deputies responded to the neighbor's 911 call. B.M. showed the deputies bruising on both sides of his neck, as well as on his right bicep and chest. The deputy reported Trimble was uncooperative and had to be restrained.

         The State charged Trimble with child endangerment; domestic abuse assault causing bodily injury, first offense; and obstruction of emergency communications. She agreed to plead guilty to domestic abuse assault.[1] At the same hearing, Trimble also pleaded guilty to a later-incurred charge for violating the no-contact order imposed following the November 2017 incident. In exchange, the State agreed to recommend Trimble be sentenced to 365 days confinement with all but six days suspended, one to two years supervised probation, completion of the Iowa Domestic Abuse Program, and a $315 fine with surcharge and court costs. Along with the sentencing recommendation, the State dismissed the child-endangerment charge, an aggravated misdemeanor, and the obstruction-of-emergency-communications charge, a serious misdemeanor.

         At the July 2018 sentencing hearing, the State followed through with its promised recommendation of six days in jail, while Trimble asked for the two-day statutory minimum term. B.M. gave a victim impact statement, recounting the attack by Trimble after he told her he was going to the bank that November day:

[S]he fired back, 'Oh, so are you going to sleep with that girl from the bank?' And she grabbed my shirt and said, . 'We are having sex right now.' I told her no and she ...

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