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State v. Debettignies

Court of Appeals of Iowa

November 6, 2019

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
MICHAEL JOSEPH DEBETTIGNIES, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Floyd County, Chris Foy, Judge.

         Michael Debettignies appeals his conviction for third-degree sexual abuse.

          Mark C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, (until withdrawal) and Melinda J. Nye, Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Bridget A. Chambers, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Considered by Bower, C.J., and May and Greer, JJ.

          MAY, JUDGE.

         Michael Debettignies appeals his conviction for sexual abuse in the third degree. He contends the district court abused its discretion by prohibiting him from impeaching the complaining witness with certain evidence. We find error was not preserved. So we affirm.

         I. Facts and Prior Proceedings

         The State charged Debettignies with third-degree sexual abuse. C.B. was the complaining witness.

         Prior to trial, the State filed a motion in limine. Among other things, the State sought to exclude evidence of an incident in which C.B. threatened to accuse a police officer of inappropriately touching her during a mental-health commitment. Debettignies resisted, arguing he should be able to use the information to impeach C.B.'s truthfulness. The court sustained the motion.

         The matter proceeded to trial, and the jury convicted Debettignies as charged. He now appeals.

         II. Discussion

         Debettignies appeals the district court's motion in limine ruling. He argues the district court abused its discretion by preventing him from questioning C.B. about her threat to accuse a police officer of inappropriately touching her. The State contends the issue was not preserved for review. We agree with the State.

         "Generally, we review a district court's evidentiary rulings for an abuse of discretion." Wailes v. Hy-Vee, Inc., 861 N.W.2d 262, 264 (Iowa Ct. App. 2014). "However, a 'ruling sustaining a motion in limine is generally not an evidentiary ruling.'" Id. (citation omitted). "Rather, a ruling sustaining a motion in limine simply adds a procedural step to the ...


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