State v. Conyers, No. 92-1401

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Iowa
Writing for the CourtConsidered by McGIVERIN; SNELL
Citation506 N.W.2d 442
Docket NumberNo. 92-1401
Decision Date20 October 1993
PartiesSTATE of Iowa, Appellee, v. Ralph Raymond CONYERS, Appellant.

Page 442

506 N.W.2d 442
STATE of Iowa, Appellee,
v.
Ralph Raymond CONYERS, Appellant.
No. 92-1401.
Supreme Court of Iowa.
Oct. 20, 1993.

Page 443

Linda Del Gallo, State Appellate Defender, and Kevin Cmelik, Asst. State Appellate Defender, for appellant.

Bonnie J. Campbell, Atty. Gen., Chris Odell, Asst. Atty. Gen., Thomas S. Mullin, County Atty., and Jill R. Pitsenberger, Asst. County Atty., for appellee.

Considered by McGIVERIN, C.J., and LARSON, CARTER, SNELL, and TERNUS, JJ.

SNELL, Justice.

I. Defendant, Ralph Conyers (Conyers), appeals his conviction for homicide by vehicle under Iowa Code section 707.6A (1991). Conyers was charged and convicted by a jury on two counts: homicide by vehicle under Iowa Code section 707.6A(1)(b), and involuntary manslaughter under section 707.5. After the verdicts were submitted, the trial court ruled the two offenses merged and the court entered judgment only on the offense of vehicular homicide. The defendant, on appeal to this court, contends there was insufficient evidence of recklessness presented at trial upon which to sustain his conviction for vehicular homicide. We affirm.

II. As nine-year-old Heidi Thompson crossed the street on her way home from school, a pickup truck driven by the defendant, Conyers, struck and killed her. The vehicle, as the record reveals, was a road hazard. A police inspection of the vehicle revealed that three of the truck's four brake mechanisms were completely deteriorated and inoperable. The right front brakes were "metal on metal." The left front brake mechanisms were also "completely eaten away." The right rear brake mechanism crumbled and fell to the floor when the police inspector removed the right rear hub of the truck. The left rear brake mechanism was the only one of the four in satisfactory operating condition. According to the police officer who inspected the vehicle, the metal on metal contact in the two front brake mechanisms would have caused a loud "grinding" sound. The brake parts rolling around in the right rear hub of the vehicle, according to the police inspector, would have sounded like a "rock polisher."

There were other notable mechanical defects with the vehicle. The master brake cylinder holding brake fluid for the vehicle was nearly empty. All four tires were severely worn. The front windshield contained three large "spider cracks" that interfered with the visibility of the driver.

An investigation of the accident revealed the brakes on the vehicle failed completely when Conyers attempted to stop at the intersection where Heidi was killed. Witnesses estimated the speed of the truck just before the accident to be thirty-five miles per hour--ten miles per hour in excess of the school zone limit. Conyers' vehicle traveled through a red light and into a marked crosswalk. Witnesses to the accident reported that Conyers attempted to swerve out of the way, but was not able to avoid hitting Heidi Thompson in the crosswalk.

Conyers took possession of the truck in September of 1991. Conyers took the truck and $250 in exchange for electrician services partially performed for Leslie Lowery. Conyers kept the truck but did not finish the electrical work for Lowery. Ironically, Lowery attempted to repossess the pickup truck from Conyers the morning of the accident. When Lowery confronted Conyers, Conyers told Lowery "he couldn't drive the truck because it didn't have any brakes and it

Page 444

didn't--and there was a metal grinding sound that he was hearing and it wasn't holding brake fluid." Lowery responded, "I don't want you driving the truck at all. It's to stay right where it's at." He said, "Okay. I won't be driving the truck." Lowery further testified, "it'd been snowing out and I didn't want him to be driving it at all. If it didn't have brakes on it, to wait till he could get it repaired." Ignoring Lowery's warning, Conyers drove the truck anyway. Later that same afternoon, Conyers struck and killed Heidi Thompson while driving the truck.

Conyers contests the finding of the jury that he recklessly drove the pickup truck. Conyers contends his conduct only amounts to negligence.

III. Where a defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting a jury verdict, our standard of review is that the verdict will be upheld if there is substantial evidence to support it. State v. Barrett, 445 N.W.2d 749, 753 (Iowa 1989). Evidence is "substantial" if it would have convinced a rational fact finder that the defendant is...

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18 practice notes
  • United States v. Blankenship, No. 16-4193
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • 19 Enero 2017
    ...an individual who drives a car with brakes he knows are inoperable, even if he does not intend to harm anyone, e.g. , State v. Conyers , 506 N.W.2d 442, 443–44 (Iowa 1993), so too Section 820(d) holds criminally liable a mine operator who fails to take actions necessary to remedy safety vio......
  • State v. Rodriguez, No. 10–1223.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • 21 Octubre 2011
    ...1973). A driver is reckless when he knows or should know that his driving puts others at an unreasonable risk of harm. State v. Conyers, 506 N.W.2d 442, 444 (Iowa 1993). Criminal culpability requires more than merely negligent behavior. State v. Sutton, 636 N.W.2d 107, 111 (Iowa 2001). [804......
  • United States v. Blankenship, No. 16-4193
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • 19 Enero 2017
    ...an individual who drives a car with brakes he knows are inoperable, even if he does not intend to harm anyone, e.g., State v. Conyers, 506 N.W. 2d 442, 443-44 (IowaPage 29 1993), so too Section 820(d) holds criminally liable a mine operator who fails to take actions necessary to remedy safe......
  • State v. Taylor, No. 92-1970
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Iowa
    • 25 Febrero 1994
    ...the sufficiency of the evidence we will uphold the verdict of the jury if there is substantial evidence to support it. State v. Conyers, 506 N.W.2d 442, 444 (Iowa 1993). Evidence is substantial if it would convince a rational trier-of-fact the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
18 cases
  • United States v. Blankenship, No. 16-4193
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • 19 Enero 2017
    ...an individual who drives a car with brakes he knows are inoperable, even if he does not intend to harm anyone, e.g. , State v. Conyers , 506 N.W.2d 442, 443–44 (Iowa 1993), so too Section 820(d) holds criminally liable a mine operator who fails to take actions necessary to remedy safety vio......
  • State v. Rodriguez, No. 10–1223.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • 21 Octubre 2011
    ...1973). A driver is reckless when he knows or should know that his driving puts others at an unreasonable risk of harm. State v. Conyers, 506 N.W.2d 442, 444 (Iowa 1993). Criminal culpability requires more than merely negligent behavior. State v. Sutton, 636 N.W.2d 107, 111 (Iowa 2001). [804......
  • United States v. Blankenship, No. 16-4193
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • 19 Enero 2017
    ...an individual who drives a car with brakes he knows are inoperable, even if he does not intend to harm anyone, e.g., State v. Conyers, 506 N.W. 2d 442, 443-44 (IowaPage 29 1993), so too Section 820(d) holds criminally liable a mine operator who fails to take actions necessary to remedy safe......
  • Bell v. Community Ambulance Service Agency for Northern Des Moines County, No. 96-1157
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • 28 Mayo 1998
    ...into a crosswalk in a school zone, and struck and killed a student, after being unable to stop to avoid the accident. State v. Conyers, 506 N.W.2d 442 (Iowa In the workers' compensation field we have said for a finding of gross negligence in a co-employee liability case, there must be: (1) ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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