Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Conway County Confidential: Routine Vehicle Stop Goes Bad

We're informed today that Officer Joey Cannon was shot and killed during a more or less routine traffic stop in the early hours of Friday last.

Officer Cannon stopped a pickup truck that was being erratically operated and determined that the truck was stolen. In conjunction with a Conway County deputy they approached the vehicle, Cannon approaching the driver. Without warning, the driver shot Cannon in the chest and sped off.

Officer Cannon was probably not wearing his protective vest, because of back problems it is said. It is also said that because of the area of the wound, the vest might not have done him any good.

Montie Sims, acting president of the Arkansas Association of Chiefs of Police says, "It can happen anytime. There is no such thing as a routine traffic stop."

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Dump The Body Across The Line

State v. Serrato, no. 08-0859 (Iowa Ct. App. June 17, 2009).

Serrato was convicted of killing Miriam Carmona and nonconsensual termination of her pregnancy in 2006.

Everything centered around the Escorpion bar in Muscatine. Serrato's current girlfriend arrived at the bar and got into a fight with Carmona, who alleged that Serrato was the father of her pending bundle of joy.

Serrato was notified about the affray and headed to the bar to settle things with Carmona. A fight broke out in the parking lot between Carmona and Serrato and shortly after, they disappeared along with Serrato's truck.

Carmona's body was discovered in a ditch on the Rock Island side of the bridge the next morning. A plastic bag entwined in her hair bore DNA from herself and from Serrato.

At trial Serrato moved to dismiss, alleging that the state had not adequately demonstrated territorial jurisdiction.

The court determined that where the defendant's state of mind is an essential element of the prosecution, actions in Iowa that infer his state of mind are sufficient to confer jurisdiction.

Serrato also argued that even if he was subject to Iowa jurisdiction the state did not present sufficient evidence to prove that he had the specific intent to kill Carmona.

The court of appeals agreed, reversing and remanding the case for dismissal, finding no credible evidence to show that the homicide happened in Iowa. Of course, the court chose to ignore the testimony of a jailhouse informant of the damaging admissions Serrato made. It also chose to ignore how Serrato's brother Edgardo ditched the pickup truck in Chicago the next day and how it was not located until some months had passed.

One thing's for sure-this one's headed for the Supremes.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Supremes Save Des Moines City Cops: Dunce Cap Removed

State v. Effler, no. 06-1417 (Iowa, May 29, 2009).

Effler was convicted of first degree kidnapping when he abducted a two year old girl, took her to the restroom in the old Des Moines Public Library, and sexually abused her in a truly vile manner that is enough to make me vomit.

He appealed and the court of appeals overturned his conviction, largely because Effler had said he wanted a lawyer "if I go to jail" and whether the ensuing confession could survive that kind of battle damage.

Effler succeeded in having the confession tossed out by the Court of Appeals a while ago.

Further review was granted to the state, and an evenly divided supreme court split on the issue of whether the request for an attorney was sufficiently ambiguous as to not invoke Miranda, with the result that the district court's decision denying Effler's motion to suppress was affirmed by operation of law under Iowa Code section 602.4107.

I'm not sure I agree, because that section says, "when the supreme court is equally divided the judgment of the lower court shall stand affirmed." Isn't the lower court the Court of Appeals?

Well, nevermind. Effler's right where he needs to be, doing life for the first degree kidnaping, the city police operatives have dodged a huge bullet, and all's right with the world.

For all you fans of ambiguous requests for counsel, the decision presents well reasoned arguments on either side of the issue. It's well worth reading if you need a Miranda tuneup.

One thing we can conclude. This case was, as the Duke of Wellington once famously opined, "
the nearest run thing you ever saw in your life."

Chasing the Dragon in Pot County

State v. TeKippe, no. 07-1840 (Iowa Ct. App May 29, 2009).

TeKippe, checked out cocaine evidence in seven cases while he was a drug case prosecutor in Pot County, and never returned the evidence.

In other cases he had checked out cocaine evidence that he returned to the lab and was found in an altered and adulterated condition. He was tried and convicted of drug possession, misconduct in office for falsifying a public record and theft, and sentenced to ten years' confinement.

He argued that the misconduct charge could not be sustained because the seal on an evidence bag is not a public record. The court of appeals disagreed, noting that the signed heat seal is a record "of or belonging to" the government.

In addition, seven baggies containing cocaine residue were found on his property. He argued that the evidence of possession of drugs was insufficient. The court disagreed, finding that visible residue in the baggies, and a course of conduct on TeKippe's part would have allowed a reasonable jury to find him guilty of possession.

There's no real takehome from this case, except to note that it goes a long way toward defusing the notion that using dope is a harmless affectation with no victims.

It must have been pure hell sitting in court, knowing what was about to happen, and contemplation of the mess you'd made of your life.

Washington County Confidential

State v. Williams, no. 08-0511 (Iowa Ct. App. May 29, 2009).

Williams was convicted of violating the limits on purchase of pseudoephedrine. He argued that the electronic purchase logs maintained by the pharmacies he visited in his quest to obtain cold medicine were inadmissible under Iowa Code section 126.23A(5) because they'd not been approved by the department of public safety.

The court of appeals disagreed, noting that Iowa Adm. Code 661-174.1 provides that the pharmacist's pseudoephedrine log can be kept in any electronic format, provided that the retailer provides to any peace officer a printed copy of the information.

In addition, Williams challenged the court's comparison of signatures in the pseudoephedrine book to known good exemplars, but since Williams had elected a bench trial, the district court was able to compare the signatures in the same way a jury might.