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Appeals court: robbery codefendant finger pointing + a little corroboration = conviction


In State v. Zacharias, the Iowa Court of Appeals this week affirmed judgment and sentence of a 19 year old for robbing and using a BB gun to shoot a fast food delivery driver along with four other accomplices who told police that the Defendant was the ringleader. The jury found the Defendant guilty of Robbery in the Second Degree. Defendant moved to have the judge reverse the jury verdict with a motion in arrest of judgment. The Judge denied that motion and sentenced the Defendant to 10 years in prison with a 70 percent mandatory minimum.

Defendant appealed, contending that, standing alone, accomplices pointing fingers at him was insufficient to convict him pursuant to the Iowa Rules of Criminal Procedure 2.21(3). The rule notes that accomplice testimony cannot solely be used to convict a codefendant. The Defendant also argued that the judge abused his discretion when he imposed a seventy percent mandatory minimum on him as a teenager.

The Court found that the evidence contained more than just finger pointing by accomplices—and that the evidence corroborating an accomplice’s accusation need not be corroborated by very much. It noted that this case met the threshold. First, the Court found that the Defendant himself admitted to being present during the robbery in a video recorded interrogation that the jury watched. He changed his story multiple times, making false statements during various accounts of the story, the court found. The Court found that his admissions and purportedly false statements corroborated the accomplice accounts. Moreover, a text message to one of the alleged accomplices appeared to tie that individual to the Defendant.

The Defendant argued that he should not have been sentenced to the seventy percent mandatory minimum because he was a teenager at the time of the offense. The Court found that the sentencing court imposed a sentence within the legal range and that it did not abuse its discretion, having weighed both mitigating and aggravating circumstances.

NOTE: David A. Cmelik Law PLC had no involvement in the Zacharias case.

If you or a loved one have been arrested for OWI (DUI) or another Iowa criminal offense in Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, or other Iowa community, contact David A. Cmelik Law PLC for a free initial consultation today. However, remember that a blog is not legal advice and that sending information to a lawyer over the Internet does not establish an attorney-client relationship.

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