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Case No. 16-1489

State of Iowa
v.
Joe Anthony Lopez

Appellee

State of Iowa

Appellant

Joe Anthony Lopez

Attorneys for Appellee

Linda J. Hines, Assistant Attorney General

Attorneys for Appellant

Martha J. Lucey, Assistant Appellate Defender

Court of Appeals

Court of Appeals Opinion

Opinion Number:
16-1489
Date Published:
Dec 19, 2018
Summary

            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.

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