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Case No. 19-0453

State of Iowa
Ethan L. Davis

Ethan Davis appeals from his judgment of sentence for murder in the first degree in violation of Iowa Code section 707.2(1)(a). He argues, among other things, the district court erred in failing to use amended Iowa Criminal Jury Instruction 100.10, which includes language defining proof beyond a reasonable doubt as such proof “that a reasonable person would not hesitate to act and rely upon it,” and the court erred in preventing Davis from using “hesitate to act” language in his closing argument.



State of Iowa


Ethan L. Davis

Attorneys for Resisters

Louis S. Sloven
Scott D. Brown

Attorneys for Applicant

Vidhya K. Reddy

Court of Appeals

Court of Appeals Opinion

Opinion Number:
Date Published:
Dec 16, 2020

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Appanoose County, Myron L. Gookin, Judge.  AFFIRMED AND REMANDED FOR ENTRY OF NUNC PRO TUNC ORDER.  Heard by Bower, C.J., and Vaitheswaran and Greer, JJ.  Opinion by Greer, J. (23 pages)

            Ethan Davis appeals from his conviction and sentence for murder in the first degree.  Davis argues (1) there is insufficient evidence to establish his identity as the perpetrator of the killing; (2) the court was wrong to deny his request for a specific jury instruction on reasonable doubt; (3) the court was wrong to prohibit defense counsel from using “hesitate to act” language to describe reasonable doubt during the defense’s closing argument; (4) the court was wrong to urge the jury to reach a verdict after being told it was deadlocked rather than simply telling the jury to reread the jury instructions already given; (5) the court allowed the State to impermissibly shift the burden of proof to Davis; and (6) a nunc pro tunc order is needed to make the court’s written sentencing order conform with its oral statements at sentencing.  OPINION HOLDS: We affirm Davis’s conviction for first-degree murder.  We remand to the district court for the limited purpose of entry of a nunc pro tunc order removing the court-cost and attorney-fee obligations from the sentencing order.

Other Information

Date Retained:
Feb 24, 2021
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