from the Iowa District Court for Des Moines County, Michael
J. Schilling, Judge.
Purnell appeals from his conviction of willful injury causing
C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, (until withdrawal) and
Melinda J. Nye, Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Thomas E. Bakke, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee.
Considered by Bower, C.J., and Potterfield and Greer, JJ.
Purnell appeals from his conviction of one count of willful
injury causing serious injury. He argues that there was
insufficient evidence to support findings that he stabbed the
victim or that he had the specific intent to cause serious
injury. We disagree and affirm.
Background Facts and Proceedings.
17, 2016, Jamiel Culps was stabbed twice during a fight at a
barbecue at Tim Ashford's home in Burlington, Iowa.
Witnesses identified Purnell as the stabber. In March 2018,
Purnell was charged with one count of willful injury causing
serious injury in violation of Iowa Code section 708.4(1)
(2016). The case proceeded to a jury trial.
the trial, the jury heard testimony related to a fight
between partygoers. To set the scene, Culps and two other
guests at the barbecue-James Korf and Latisha Lewis-testified
at trial. According to their testimony, about twenty people
were at the barbecue that evening. During the party, Purnell
and Ashford argued. Others, including Culps, tried to calm
them down. It was at this point that Purnell then began
arguing with Culps, and it quickly escalated into a physical
fight. Purnell slapped Culps, then Culps hit Purnell twice.
Other guests at the barbecue stood around them. Culps, Korf,
and Lewis all testified that during the fight an onlooker
shouted something equivalent to, "He's stabbing him!
He's stabbing him!" As the two men grabbed each
other and fell, Culps slammed into a car door and then onto
the ground. Purnell landed on top of Culps. After the two men
landed on the ground, onlookers pulled the two apart and
broke up the fight.
they separated, Culps realized he had been stabbed. All the
same, Culps, Korf, and Lewis denied seeing a knife or seeing
Purnell stab Culps. Likewise, the police did not recover a
knife from the scene but did find blood on the car where
Culps had fallen into the door.
rushed transport to the hospital, doctors found stab wounds
to Culps's kidney and chest. Because of the seriousness
of injury, doctors inserted a chest tube to drain the blood.
As a result of the stab wounds, Culps was at risk for
hemodynamic failure and respiratory failure, both of which
can be fatal. Culps spent one day in intensive care,
forty-eight hours at the hospital after the stabbing, and two
the presentation of these facts and at the close of the
State's evidence, Purnell's counsel moved for
judgment of acquittal arguing that the State failed to prove
Purnell had a knife or that he was the individual who stabbed
Culps. The court denied the motion. Purnell did not present
any evidence in his defense. He renewed his motion for
judgment of acquittal "on the basis of the State's
failure to prove its case on the elements," which was
deliberations, the jury found Purnell guilty as charged. The
district court sentenced him to a term of imprisonment not ...