For summaries from opinions prior to August, 2018, view PDF versions here.
State of Iowa
State of Iowa
Attorney for the Appellee
Kyle P. Hanson, Assistant Attorney General
Attorney for the Appellant
Melinda J. Nye, Assistant Appellate Defender
Court of Appeals
Court of Appeals Opinion
Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Douglas F. Staskal, Judge. AFFIRMED. Heard by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Potterfield and Tabor, JJ. Opinion by Vaitheswaran, P.J. Special Concurrence by Tabor and Potterfield, JJ. (13 pages)
Albert Garcia appeals his convictions for two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of first-degree robbery, contending: (1) a police detective lacked the qualifications to provide expert testimony about cell phone technology; (2) accomplice testimony was not corroborated by sufficient evidence; (3) his trial attorney was ineffective in failing to object to an instruction informing the jury it could consider his out-of-court statements “just as if they had been made at trial”; and (4) his murder convictions and sentences should be vacated under a merger doctrine. OPINION HOLDS: We affirm Garcia’s judgment and sentences. SPECIAL CONCURRENCE ASSERTS: I would find counsel failed in an essential duty by not objecting earlier to the officer’s testimony regarding the use of cellular phone tower technology and data. The State did not establish that the officer had specific knowledge of this technology. I would also find the district court erred in instructing the jurors they could consider Garcia’s out-of-court statements “just as if they had been made at trial,” consistent with my prior dissenting opinions in State v. Yenger, No. 17-0592, 2018 WL 3060251, at *7 (Iowa Ct. App. June 20, 2018), and State v. Payne, No. 16-1672, 2018 WL 1182624, at *11–12 (Iowa Ct. App. Mar. 7, 2018). Nonetheless, I join the majority because Garcia cannot show he was prejudiced as a result of these failures.