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Daniels v. State

Court of Appeals of Iowa

December 18, 2019

TERRY DANIELS, Applicant-Appellant,
STATE OF IOWA, Respondent-Appellee.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Black Hawk County, David P. Odekirk, Judge.

         The applicant challenges the denial of his application for postconviction relief.

          Lanny M. Van Daele of Van Daele Law, LLC, North Liberty, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Genevieve Reinkoester, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

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

          POTTERFIELD, Judge.

         Terry Daniels challenges the denial of his application for postconviction relief (PCR), following his 2014 convictions for possession of or conspiracy to possess more than fifty grams of cocaine base with the intent to deliver and failure to possess a drug tax stamp. As he did before the PCR court, Daniels[1]claims he received ineffective assistance from trial counsel when counsel failed to 1) object to incomplete jury instructions on aiding and abetting and 2) challenge the two amendments to the trial information. Daniels also claims he received ineffective assistance from his direct appeal counsel, maintaining counsel should have challenged the district court's ruling there was sufficient evidence to include Latasha Daniels as a co-conspirator in the marshalling instruction. In his pro se brief, [2] Daniels joins the arguments made by counsel and also argues 1) trial counsel was ineffective for allowing him to waive his right to be tried within one year after the one-year deadline had already passed, 2) there was insufficient evidence to support the alternative theories presented to the jury, and 3) the verdict against him was not unanimous.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings.[3]

         Waterloo police officers were investigating the distribution of crack cocaine, and they received information that a quantity of the drug would be arriving by bus from Chicago on January 6, 2013. Surveillance was set up in several locations, including the bus terminal. Officers observed Derrick Daniels get off the bus from Chicago with a black duffel bag. He entered a vehicle driven by his cousin, Latasha Daniels. The car was subsequently pulled over, and plastic bags containing approximately sixty-nine grams of crack cocaine were located in the black duffle bag.

         Officers also had two residential addresses under surveillance at the time. Prior to Derrick arriving on the bus, police observed Latasha leave a home located at 1223 Mulberry. Shortly after Latasha picked up Derrick at the bus station, police observed Daniels leave his residence at 868 Fowler along with his long-term girlfriend, Mary Frye, and an unknown male, and drive in the direction of 1223 Mulberry. His vehicle was also stopped, and officers returned to the Fowler address with Mary to execute a search warrant.

         At the Fowler residence, police located a receipt for a money transfer from Mary to Derrick and a car rental agreement. One of the officers testified it is common to find car rental agreements during narcotics investigations as drug traffickers will use rental cars in order to conceal their identity from officers. Traffickers will also often use the name and identity of one of their customers in order to further conceal their identity. The car rental agreement found at the Fowler residence listed the name of an individual that the officer knew to be a crack-cocaine user. Officers located a letter addressed to Latasha, who is Daniels's daughter, with the Fowler address along with a letter addressed to Daniels. The officers also located a box of sandwich baggies in the kitchen and a receipt for a money gram from Latasha. A canine officer alerted to a nightstand in the upstairs bedroom, though no narcotics were found.

         Officers also executed a search warrant at the Mulberry residence. Officers found two digital scales, razor blades, and sandwich baggies, all indicating drugs were weighed and packaged into individual units for resale in the residence. A prescription pill bottle with Derrick's name on it was located in a shoe in a closet. Mail containing Latasha's name with the Mulberry residence address and the Fowler address was also located in the Mulberry home.

         At the police station, Officer Nicholas Berry interviewed Daniels, who told the officer he had a source in Chicago supplying him with crack cocaine. (The recording system in the interview room where Officer Berry interviewed Daniels malfunctioned. Officer Berry's testimony is the only evidence of Daniels's confession.) Daniels admitted the crack cocaine Derrick and Latasha were caught with was the result of an arrangement he had made with his source in Chicago. He told Officer Berry he was paying $1300 per ounce and receiving two ounces at a time, three times a month. Officer Berry testified that one ounce of crack cocaine is a little more than twenty-eight grams, making the total amount of crack cocaine seized that day equal to approximately two and one-half ounces. Officer Berry testified the amount of cocaine base discovered in the vehicle was consistent with distribution and not consistent with personal use. Another officer also testified Daniels gave the Mulberry address as his own when he was booked into jail.

         In his defense at trial, Daniels called Derrick to testify. Derrick stated Daniels had nothing to do with the drugs found in his possession on January 6. While Derrick testified he took full responsibility for the drugs, on cross-examination Derrick also stated he was "shocked" when the police officer removed the drugs from the duffle bag. While he was carrying the bag, he told police it did not belong to him and pointed out in his testimony that the bag contained clothing that was not his and contained Latasha's wallet and identification. However, he ultimately admitted to knowing the drugs were in the duffle bag. He also admitted to owning the digital scales found during the search of the Mulberry address. At the time of Daniels's trial, Derrick had already been tried and convicted for possessing the cocaine base and was awaiting sentencing.

         The jury found Daniels guilty of possession of, or conspiracy to possess, over fifty grams of cocaine base and failure to have a drug tax stamp. Daniels admitted to being a subsequent offender and was originally sentenced to ninety years in jail with a one-third mandatory minimum. Following a hearing on a motion for reconsideration, Daniels was resentenced to a term of imprisonment not to exceed fifty years with a one-third mandatory minimum.

         Daniels filed a direct appeal of his conviction, in which he challenged the sufficiency of the evidence and maintained his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance in a number of respects. The supreme court transferred the case to us, and a panel of our court affirmed. See Daniels, 2015 WL 9450636, at *12.

         Daniels filed his application for PCR in 2016. He raised a number of clams, including that trial counsel breached an essential duty by failing to object to improper jury instructions Specifically, Daniels argued he was prejudiced by the failure of the aiding and abetting instruction to include the necessary specific intent language, informing the jury that, because possession with intent to deliver is a specific intent crime, Daniels could only be guilty by way of aiding and abetting if ...

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