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State v. Wilson

Court of Appeals of Iowa

December 18, 2019

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
CHAD LEROY WILSON, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Mills County, James S. Heckerman, Judge.

         Chad Wilson appeals multiple criminal convictions and the sentences imposed.

          Mark C. Smith, State Appellate Defender (until withdrawal), and Vidhya K. Reddy, Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.

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

          Considered by Tabor, P.J., and Mullins and May, JJ.

          MULLINS, JUDGE.

         Chad Wilson appeals his convictions, following a jury trial, of one count of sexual abuse in the third degree, two counts of lascivious acts with a child, and two counts of indecent contact with a child. He also challenges the sentences imposed. He argues (1) the court abused its discretion in denying his motions for a mistrial and new trial upon complaints about the presentation of prior-bad-acts evidence; (2) his trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance in failing to object to a jury instruction; (3) his stipulation to a prior conviction for sentencing-enhancement purposes was not entered knowingly and voluntarily; (4) the provision in the sentencing order requiring him to pay court costs, including attorney fees, fails to conform with the oral pronouncement of sentence or, alternatively, was improperly ordered without a determination of his reasonable ability to pay; and (5) the court's entry of a lifetime sentencing no-contact order was illegal.

         I. Background

         In July 2016, Wilson was charged with a host of crimes for acts allegedly occurring between January 2015 and June 2016.[1] In March 2017, Wilson moved in limine for exclusion of evidence concerning, among other things, his prior conviction. At a subsequent pretrial conference, the State agreed to not present said evidence unless the defense opened the door. A trial ultimately commenced on February 27, 2018.[2] Prior to trial, Wilson's motion in limine was revisited, and the court sustained Wilson's motion as to his prior conviction subject to Wilson not opening the door.

         At trial, the complaining witness testified that, after she made allegations of sexual abuse against Wilson, he stated to her, "[T]hanks, now you've got me going to jail again." At the next recess, Wilson moved for a mistrial based on the testimony. The court offered to provide the jury a curative instruction. Wilson declined, taking the position it would draw more attention to the testimony. The court overruled the motion. The second day of trial, the State amended its trial information to charge Wilson with one count of third-degree sexual abuse, two counts of lascivious acts with a child, and two counts of indecent contact with a child. The jury began its deliberations on February 28 at 1:26 p.m. The jury deliberated for the remainder of the day and was excused at 5:10 p.m. Deliberations resumed on March 1 at 8:00 a.m. The jury ultimately reached a verdict at 11:14 a.m., finding Wilson guilty as charged. Thereafter, Wilson stipulated he was previously convicted on a charge of sexual abuse in the third degree.

         Prior to sentencing, Wilson filed a combined motion for a new trial and in arrest of judgment. In the motion, defense counsel noted the complaining witness's testimony concerning Wilson going to jail "again," and stated she spoke with the jury foreperson, who "confirmed that the jury heard this statement and considered it during their deliberations." The State resisted. The State submitted an affidavit of the jury foreperson, which provided:

1.The discussion I had with defense counsel was misstated in the Motion for a New Trial.
2. The jurors heard N.W.'s testimony about the defendant going to "jail again," but the discussion during deliberations about that comment was brief and no weight was placed on that statement in reaching the verdicts.
3. I, personally, reminded the rest of the jurors that her comment about him being in jail before doesn't matter to our deliberations and that he could have been in jail for something else. I stated something to the effect of, "We can't even take that into account because we don't know what he might have been in jail for previously." We never brought up the possibility that it could been for a sex abuse charge.

         The court heard the motion at the time set for sentencing. Following arguments of ...


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