Skip to main content
Iowa Judicial Branch
Main Content

Case No. 16-1489

State of Iowa
Joe Anthony Lopez


State of Iowa


Joe Anthony Lopez

Attorney for the Appellee

Linda J. Hines, Assistant Attorney General

Attorney for the Appellant

Martha J. Lucey, Assistant Appellate Defender

Court of Appeals

Court of Appeals Opinion

Opinion Number:
Date Published:
Dec 19, 2018

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Jeanie K. Vaudt, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Heard by Tabor, P.J., and Mullins and Bower, JJ.  Opinion by Tabor, P.J.  (30 pages)

            Joe Lopez appeals his conviction for first-degree murder.  Lopez claims insufficient evidence supports his conviction, the district court should have admitted evidence of his willingness to take a polygraph, the district court should have excluded the medical examiner’s manner-of-death testimony, the prosecutor committed error by mischaracterizing expert testimony in closing arguments, and counsel was ineffective for failing to object to prior-bad-acts evidence and failing to request or object to the omission of a jury instruction defining reasonable degree of medical certainty.  OPINION HOLDS: We find Lopez’s conviction supported by sufficient evidence.  Further, the district court did not abuse its discretion in excluding evidence of Lopez’s willingness to take a polygraph, nor in admitting Dr. Schmunk’s manner-of-death testimony.  Lopez failed to demonstrate he was prejudiced by the prosecutor’s statements.  And finally, concerning Lopez’s ineffective-assistance claims, we preserve his prior-bad-acts claim for postconviction relief and find no breach of duty for counsel’s lack of request or objection to the omission of an instruction defining reasonable degree of medical certainty.

© 2024 Iowa Judicial Branch. All Rights Reserved.