State v. Mitchell, No. 88-1464

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Iowa
Writing for the CourtConsidered by McGIVERIN; NEUMAN
Citation450 N.W.2d 828
PartiesSTATE of Iowa, Appellee, v. Louis F. MITCHELL, Appellant.
Docket NumberNo. 88-1464
Decision Date24 January 1990

Page 828

450 N.W.2d 828
STATE of Iowa, Appellee,
v.
Louis F. MITCHELL, Appellant.
No. 88-1464.
Supreme Court of Iowa.
Jan. 24, 1990.
Rehearing Denied Feb. 16, 1990.

Page 829

Raymond E. Rogers, State Appellate Defender, and Shari Barron, Asst. Appellate Defender, for appellant.

Thomas J. Miller, Atty. Gen., Ann E. Brenden, Asst. Atty. Gen., James J. Koll, County Atty., and Robert Hansen, Asst. County Atty., for appellee.

Considered by McGIVERIN, C.J., and CARTER, LAVORATO, NEUMAN and ANDREASEN, JJ.

NEUMAN, Justice.

Defendant Louis Mitchell was charged with first-degree kidnapping for the alleged abduction and sexual abuse of a young woman from Denison, Iowa. Following a bench trial, the court concluded that the abduction was merely incidental to the crime of sexual abuse. Thus, Mitchell was convicted of second-degree sexual abuse and sentenced to a term of imprisonment not to exceed twenty-five years. See Iowa Code §§ 709.3(3) and 902.9(1) (1987).

On appeal, Mitchell contends that the crime of sexual abuse for which he has been convicted is not a lesser-included offense of first-degree kidnapping. He also asserts that evidence of a suicide attempt following his arrest should have been suppressed and that certain hearsay testimony was improperly admitted in evidence.

Our review of this criminal appeal is limited to the correction of errors at law. Iowa R.App.P. 4. We affirm.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings. The State produced evidence of a crime spree that took place over a nine-day period in five different states. In the interest of brevity, we shall relate in detail only those facts that are pertinent to Mitchell's conviction for a single incident of sexual abuse in Fort Dodge, Iowa.

On March 17, 1988, a dancer named Susan was working in Fort Dodge at a bar called Scarlett O'Hara's. As Susan was leaving the bar about 1 a.m., she encountered defendant Louis Mitchell in the parking lot. They exchanged casual conversation about whether Susan was finished dancing for the night. Susan got into her car and drove to the Eilers Motel where she was staying.

Mitchell was also staying at the Eilers Motel. He pulled into the parking lot just as Susan arrived. Again they exchanged conversation as they entered the motel. Later, while Susan was watching television in her room, Mitchell and his friend, Don Ochs, appeared at her door. Mitchell made introductions in the hallway. Then he and Ochs returned to their room.

Susan, meanwhile, was awaiting a phone call from her boyfriend and for a coworker to stop by for a haircut. At about 2 a.m. Mitchell returned, this time alone, and asked if he could talk to Susan for a while. Assuming that he was bored, Susan let him in. After a few minutes of watching television, Mitchell drew a sawed-off shotgun from under his jacket. He then grabbed Susan by the collar and took her at gun point down the hall to his room to "party" with him and Ochs.

In Mitchell's room, Susan was beaten about the head and face and forcibly raped by both Mitchell and Ochs. Susan sustained two black eyes and a bruised ear. Thereafter Mitchell returned to Susan's room to collect her belongings. Susan was

Page 830

forced to leave the motel with Mitchell and Ochs at about 4:30 a.m. She was told that if she did not cooperate, she would be handcuffed and then thrown in the trunk of Mitchell's car.

Ochs drove Susan's car and abandoned it in Perry, Iowa. The trio then proceeded in Mitchell's car to Chadron, Nebraska, where they checked into another motel.

For the next nine days, Susan traveled with Mitchell and Ochs through Nebraska, Wyoming, Colorado and South Dakota before returning to Iowa. Susan testified that Mitchell told her that he and Ochs had killed others and would kill her too if she made any attempt to escape. During the trip, Mitchell and Ochs made brief stops to visit friends and relatives. When encountering others, Susan was told to shield her black eyes from sight or explain that they were the result of an "accident."

Upon returning to Iowa, Mitchell dropped off Ochs outside Fort Dodge. Mitchell then attempted to peddle a large quantity of stolen liquor and cigarettes through another friend, Don Allbee. While Susan was momentarily left alone with Allbee in Mitchell's car, she told him about her "predicament." Over defense counsel's objection, Susan was allowed to testify that Allbee told her Louis had mentioned "it" and Allbee suggested he might be able to help her. He thought he could divert Mitchell at some point so that Susan could get away.

That evening, while in a motel in Fort Dodge with Mitchell and Allbee, Susan made her getaway. Mitchell was sleeping soundly and Allbee reportedly "looked the other way." Susan ran to a farmhouse where she contacted authorities concerning her nine-day ordeal.

Mitchell was arrested two weeks later in Oklahoma City for a traffic violation. Mitchell gave the officer a false name. After running a check on the car's license plate number, the officer discovered that Mitchell was wanted for kidnapping. While sitting in the back of a squad car en route to jail, Mitchell slashed his wrists in an apparent suicide attempt.

In a lengthy and detailed opinion, the district court found that Susan's removal from her room to Mitchell's room in the Eilers Motel was incidental to the principal crime of sexual abuse and could not stand by itself as an independent act of kidnapping. The court further found that the subsequent act of leaving the motel and traveling west bore all the hallmarks of the asportation element of kidnapping--increased harm to the victim, easier escape for the perpetrator, reduced risk of detection--but because no further sexual abuse occurred within Iowa, the State failed to prove the intent element of the offense. See Iowa Code § 710.1 (defining kidnapping). Finally, the court could not find beyond a reasonable doubt that any sexual acts occurring in the other states were nonconsensual. Accordingly, the...

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58 practice notes
  • State v. Feaster
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
    • July 30, 1998
    ...is generally admitted into evidence. See, e.g., Aldridge v. State, 229 Ga.App. 544, 494 S.E.2d 368, 370-71 (1997); State v. Mitchell, 450 N.W.2d 828, 831-32 (Iowa 1990). We stated that before admitting such evidence, a trial court should normally hold an admissibility hearing to determine w......
  • U.S. v. Johnson, No. CR 01-3046-MWB.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Northern District of Iowa
    • January 3, 2005
    ...ground that "suicide is a form of flight"), cert. denied, 398 U.S. 938, 90 S.Ct. 1843, 26 L.Ed.2d 271 (1970); see also State v. Mitchell, 450 N.W.2d 828, 831-32 (Iowa 1990) (noting that "[c]ourts in Iowa and elsewhere have found evidence of suicide attempts relevant to show the defendant's ......
  • State v. SR, No. 16-0061
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • June 30, 2017
    ...N.W.2d 180, 185 (Iowa 2016). Evidence is not hearsay if it is not offered to show the truth of the matter asserted. State v. Mitchell, 450 N.W.2d 828, 832 (Iowa 1990). An out-of-court statement offered only to explain responsive conduct that is relevant to an aspect of the State's case is n......
  • Com. v. Sanchez
    • United States
    • Superior Court of Pennsylvania
    • June 3, 1992
    ...(Del.1983); State v. Hargraves, 62 Idaho 8, 107 P.2d 854 (1940); People v. Duncan, 261 Ill. 339, 103 N.E. 1043 (1913); State v. Mitchell, 450 N.W.2d 828 (Iowa 1990); Commonwealth v. Goldenberg, 315 Mass. 26, 51 N.E.2d 762 (1943); State v. Campbell, 146 Mont. 251, 405 P.2d 978, 22 A.L.R.3d 8......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
58 cases
  • State v. Feaster
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
    • July 30, 1998
    ...is generally admitted into evidence. See, e.g., Aldridge v. State, 229 Ga.App. 544, 494 S.E.2d 368, 370-71 (1997); State v. Mitchell, 450 N.W.2d 828, 831-32 (Iowa 1990). We stated that before admitting such evidence, a trial court should normally hold an admissibility hearing to determine w......
  • U.S. v. Johnson, No. CR 01-3046-MWB.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Northern District of Iowa
    • January 3, 2005
    ...ground that "suicide is a form of flight"), cert. denied, 398 U.S. 938, 90 S.Ct. 1843, 26 L.Ed.2d 271 (1970); see also State v. Mitchell, 450 N.W.2d 828, 831-32 (Iowa 1990) (noting that "[c]ourts in Iowa and elsewhere have found evidence of suicide attempts relevant to show the defendant's ......
  • State v. SR, No. 16-0061
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • June 30, 2017
    ...N.W.2d 180, 185 (Iowa 2016). Evidence is not hearsay if it is not offered to show the truth of the matter asserted. State v. Mitchell, 450 N.W.2d 828, 832 (Iowa 1990). An out-of-court statement offered only to explain responsive conduct that is relevant to an aspect of the State's case is n......
  • Com. v. Sanchez
    • United States
    • Superior Court of Pennsylvania
    • June 3, 1992
    ...(Del.1983); State v. Hargraves, 62 Idaho 8, 107 P.2d 854 (1940); People v. Duncan, 261 Ill. 339, 103 N.E. 1043 (1913); State v. Mitchell, 450 N.W.2d 828 (Iowa 1990); Commonwealth v. Goldenberg, 315 Mass. 26, 51 N.E.2d 762 (1943); State v. Campbell, 146 Mont. 251, 405 P.2d 978, 22 A.L.R.3d 8......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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