State v. Harrison, 16-1998

Decision Date22 June 2018
Docket NumberNo. 16-1998,16-1998
Parties STATE of Iowa, Appellee, v. Keyon HARRISON, Appellant.
CourtIowa Supreme Court

Matthew G. Sease of Kemp & Sease, Des Moines, for appellant.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Louis S. Sloven, Assistant Attorney General, John P. Sarcone, County Attorney, and Jeffrey K. Noble and Shannon Archer, Assistant County Attorneys, for appellee.

Brent Michael Pattison of Drake Legal Clinic, Des Moines, and Marsha L. Levick, of Juvenile Law Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for amici curiae Juvenile Law Center, Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth, and the Center for Law, Brain and Behavior.

ZAGER, Justice.

Keyon Harrison appeals his conviction for first-degree murder. Harrison argues applying the felony-murder rule to juvenile offenders based upon a theory of aiding and abetting violates the Iowa and United States Constitutions. Harrison also presents as-applied and categorical constitutional challenges to his sentence claiming a sentence of life with the possibility of parole for a juvenile offender who was convicted of felony murder constitutes cruel and unusual punishment under the Iowa and United States Constitutions. Further, Harrison maintains the trial court failed to provide the jury with proper instructions regarding the types of assault required to establish the forcible felony robbery element of felony murder. Finally, Harrison presents ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claims alleging he was prejudiced by the errors of his trial counsel, including trial counsel's failure to request certain jury instructions and failure to object to certain evidence presented at trial. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm the conviction and sentence.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

On November 7, 2014, starting at approximately 3:45 p.m., Aaron McHenry began receiving calls and text messages from Keith Collins who was looking to buy marijuana from McHenry. Collins, then seventeen years old, and Keyon Harrison, then sixteen years old, were at an Oasis store at the time, and they initially wanted to meet McHenry at the Oasis store. However, McHenry did not know where the Oasis store was located. Therefore, McHenry arranged for them to meet at the Family Dollar store near the 2600 block of Hickman Lane around 4:20 p.m. The purpose of the meeting was to complete the sale of marijuana from McHenry to Collins and Harrison.

At 4:23 p.m., Shirley Dick was taking her dogs outside when she saw a black male, later identified as Collins, walking near her home at 2600 Hickman Lane. Dick approached Collins to see if there was anything she could help him with, and Collins told her that he was waiting for his girlfriend. Dick told Collins there were no kids that lived on her street, and Collins turned away without responding to her. Thereafter, Dick noticed Jorge Gutierrez, a nearby neighbor, chasing his dog as it ran from his house in the direction of Dick's house. Dick waited outside, offering to help Gutierrez retrieve his dog.

While Gutierrez was retrieving his dog and returning home, he observed Collins sitting on a retaining wall on Hickman Lane. Gutierrez also saw McHenry and Harrison walking from 26th Street in the direction of Hickman Lane. Gutierrez saw McHenry and Harrison begin to walk faster, and they eventually "started to, like, push each other." Nevertheless, Gutierrez went back inside, and Shirley Dick turned to walk back towards her home.

As she turned around, Dick heard gunshots, and she saw Collins take off running underneath nearby bushes. Dick testified that Collins was "maybe five feet" from McHenry when she turned around, but she did not see Harrison or anyone else in the area.1 Dick then called 911. Gutierrez also heard the gunshots and turned around to see McHenry lying on the ground. Gutierrez saw Collins and Harrison start running together "away from Hickman Road."

Several other neighbors told police they saw two black males running away from the area, and two nearby homeowners provided police with security camera footage from their homes showing a black male running away from the area. Camera footage at Broadlawns Hospital, taken shortly after the shooting, shows Collins and Harrison together at the hospital where Collins was treated for an injury to his right hand. Harrison and Collins then went to meet up with Harrison's girlfriend at her residence. The girlfriend testified that when she joined them, she saw Harrison "was holding two bags of marijuana in his hands, like baseball size". Thereafter, the group went to a store to buy blunt wraps for smoking marijuana, and Harrison and Collins smoked some of the marijuana when they returned to the girlfriend's house. Harrison and Collins then returned to Collins's apartment around 8:00 p.m.

When police responded to the 911 call about a shooting at Hickman Lane, they discovered Aaron McHenry's dead body. McHenry had multiple gunshot wounds

to the head, torso, upper back, and arm, including a couple of wounds that contained signs indicating he was shot from close range. Police were able to identify Collins as a suspect soon after the shooting. Police contacted the Hoover High School resource officer after another Hickman Lane neighbor told them that one of the individuals went to Hoover High School with her. She also told police that people at the school thought he resembled the rapper Bobby Shmurda. The resource officer identified two individuals who fit that description. Later, the police provided the neighbor with two separate photo arrays. The neighbor was able to positively identify Collins as one of the individuals running from the area of the shooting. Police subsequently obtained a search warrant for Collins's apartment, which they executed about twelve hours after responding to the scene of the shooting.

Harrison was with Collins at the apartment when the police executed the search warrant. Collins had marijuana in his backpack, and Harrison had marijuana on his person. Both packages of marijuana confiscated from Collins and Harrison were identical in amount and packaging. Police recovered the cell phone used to communicate with McHenry, but they did not recover a gun during the search. The police then took Harrison into custody. After Harrison's mother arrived, Detective Youngblut provided Harrison and his mother with his Miranda rights, and they agreed to sign a written waiver of his Miranda rights.

Youngblut conducted Harrison's questioning and recorded the entire interview and events surrounding the interview at the police station. The recording equipment was visible, and there was a sign outside of the interview room informing people that the room was audio and video recorded. Harrison's mother was aware of the recording. While police were not in the room, she informed Harrison that the room was being recorded. During the interview, Harrison was repeatedly dishonest with Youngblut. Harrison told Youngblut that Collins did not have a cell phone. Harrison told Youngblut that he was not with Collins around the time of the murder because he was somewhere else and that he went to Broadlawns Hospital with his girlfriend from his girlfriend's house to meet up with Collins.

When Youngblut left the room, Harrison's mother accused Harrison of lying and told Harrison, "I can't help you if you lyin' to me." In response, Harrison stated,

Alright mama. Look, look. We was walking, [Collins]'s like, "I got a lick." I'm like, "Bro, no, bro, you're not going to do it." He's like, "Bro, I've got a lick. I need it. I need to go to Chicago." He's like—because he's trying to go to Chicago or whatever with his mom. He's like, "Bro, I need it." So I'm like, "Bro, you can hit that lick but bro, I'm just going to stay on the side." So we walking down, we walking down the street and then he was....

Harrison's mother then interjected to remind Harrison that they were being recorded before Harrison could finish the rest of the sentence. A "lick" is slang for a robbery, and the cell phone the police recovered from Collins listed McHenry's phone number under the name "Lick." Investigators found marijuana residue in McHenry's pants pocket but no marijuana, which they believed indicated someone had stolen marijuana from him.

The State charged both Harrison and Collins with first-degree murder. They were tried separately. The State initially charged Harrison with first-degree murder in violation of Iowa Code sections 707.1 and 707.2 and first-degree robbery in violation of Iowa Code sections 711.1 and 711.2 (2015). Harrison's trial began on October 3, 2016. On October 4, before the presentation of any evidence, the State filed an amended trial information that dropped the charge of first-degree robbery.

The State conceded during trial that "the evidence tends to suggest that it was probably [Harrison's] friend and companion Keith Collins" who shot McHenry, and it dismissed the charge of premeditated murder in the first-degree under Iowa Code section 707.2(1)(a ). At trial, the State only presented the theory of first-degree murder based upon the felony-murder rule under Iowa Code section 707.2(1)(b ). The State argued Harrison was guilty of aiding and abetting in the robbery and murder of McHenry. At the conclusion of the trial, the jury returned a unanimous verdict finding Harrison guilty of first-degree murder in violation of Iowa Code sections 707.1 and 707.2(1)(b ) for killing McHenry while participating in a forcible felony, the robbery. Harrison was sentenced to life in prison with immediate parole eligibility. Harrison filed a timely appeal, which we retained.

II. Standard of Review.

We review alleged violations of state or federal constitutional rights de novo. State v. Coleman , 907 N.W.2d 124, 134 (Iowa 2018). In doing so, we evaluate each case "in light of its unique circumstances" by examining the "totality of the circumstances as shown by the entire record" to "make an independent evaluation." State v. Krogmann , 804 N.W.2d 518,...

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