State v. Schurman, 54967

Decision Date28 March 1973
Docket NumberNo. 54967,54967
Citation205 N.W.2d 732
PartiesSTATE of Iowa, Appellee, v. David LeRoy SCHURMAN, Appellant.
CourtIowa Supreme Court

Donald E. Doyle, Davenport, for appellant.

Richard C. Turner, Atty. Gen., Robert D. Jacobson, Asst. Atty. Gen., Edward N. Wehr, County Atty., for appellee.


MASON, Justice.

David LeRoy Schurman was charged in one count of a county attorney's information as amended with the crime of sodomy contrary to section 705.1, The Code. In the second count defendant was charged with the crime of assault to commit a felony, to wit: sodomy, in violation of section 694.5. The offense is alleged to have been committed per anus on the body of Roy Caskey, defendant's six-year-old stepson. Defendant appeals from judgment imposing sentence on his conviction by a jury of sodomy.

In motion made at the close of the State's evidence and renewed at the close of all evidence defendant asserted in effect the evidence was insufficient to generate a jury question as to defendant's guilt of either of the offenses charged in the information; there was no direct evidence of defendant's commission of either offense; and hearsay evidence bearing on defendant's commission of either offense was inconclusive and inconsistent. The motions were overruled.

In motion for new trial defendant again complained the verdict was based upon hearsay testimony; that the State's circumstantial evidence bearing on the alleged crime was rebutted by defendant's uncontroverted explanation of the apparent injury to the child and the surrounding circumstances; and the credibility of the State's witnesses had been placed in doubt. Defendant's motion for new trial was denied and he was committed to the state penitentiary for not to exceed ten years.

Defendant relies upon two assignments of error for reversal contending the court erred: (1) in refusing to direct a verdict for defendant and (2) in overruling defendant's motion for new trial.

I. Section 705.1, The Code, defines sodomy in this manner:

'Definition. Whoever shall have carnal copulation in any opening of the body except sexual parts, with another human being, or shall have carnal copulation with a beast, shall be deemed guilty of sodomy.'

In a criminal action the cause should be submitted to the jury and the court should not direct a verdict of acquittal if there is any substantial evidence reasonably tending to support the charge. State v. Johnson, 196 N.W.2d 563, 566 (Iowa 1972).

This court has repeatedly held on defendant's appeal from criminal conviction based on jury verdict challenging sufficiency of evidence to sustain the verdict, the evidence is viewed in the light most favorable to the State and we accept as established all reasonable inferences tending to support the jury's action. It is necessary to consider only the supporting evidence whether contradicted or not. State v. Brown, 172 N.W.2d 152, 153 (Iowa 1969); State v. Beer, 193 N.W.2d 530, 531 (Iowa 1972). It is the task of the fact finder to resolve questions of fact and assess the credibility of witnesses. And a finding of guilt is binding on the appellate court unless without substantial support in the record. State v. Gilroy, 199 N.W.2d 63, 66 (Iowa 1972). Furthermore, either direct or circumstantial evidence may be sufficient to warrant a verdict of guilty. However, where circumstantial evidence alone is relied on as to an essential element the circumstances must be entirely consistent with defendant's guilt, wholly inconsistent with any rational hypothesis of his innocence, and so convincing as to exclude any reasonable doubt that defendant was guilty of the offense charged. Like direct evidence it must raise a fair inference of guilt, generate something more than suspicion, speculation or conjecture. Id. at 67.

II. In his first assignment attacking the court's adverse ruling on his motion for directed verdict, defendant contends testimony of the State's witnesses was insufficient to prove the essential elements of the crime charged beyond a reasonable doubt; more specifically, the State failed to prove actual penetration. Further, he argues the only testimony adduced by the State that would tend to sustain the charge of sodomy was inadmissible hearsay.

The same arguments are advanced in support of his second assignment claiming the trial court erroneously overruled his motion for new trial.

The victim of the alleged crime, six-year-old Roy Caskey, was not a witness at the trial. Rather, the State confined its case to the testimony of defendant's wife, Joan Schurman, who is the boy's mother, and defendant's brother-in-law, Oakley Gail Caskey, Jr.

Oakley Caskey, Jr., testified that at approximately 12:30 p.m. Friday, March 19, 1971, he went to the Schurman residence to take Roy Caskey to his grandparents' home, as requested by his sister. As Caskey approached the house he heard Roy crying. Upon entering the front door he observed defendant leaving the bedroom and noticed defendant's pants were unzipped. He then approached the bedroom, where he discovered Roy putting his pants on. Defendant then returned to the bedroom with other clothes for the boy to wear. After Roy changed his clothes, Caskey drove the boy to his grandparents' home. While at the home, Caskey stated that Roy told him defendant had in effect, committed or attempted to commit the crime of sodomy.

Joan Schurman testified that she was unaware of the incident until she talked with her son at about 6:00 p.m. that evening. Roy then related to her the alleged event that occurred in the bedroom of their home earlier that afternoon. She then examined the boy and found his rectum to be red and bruised. Mrs. Schurman also stated: 'David finally admitted to me that he had done this. I asked him what brought it onto him to try such a thing with my little boy, and he said he didn't know, he said he just guessed he felt like it and I wasn't home.'

In their testimony both Caskey and Mrs. Schurman recounted the description given them by Roy of defendant's behavior toward him on this occasion.

Defendant denied commission of the alleged act. He testified that as he and Roy descended some cement steps while walking home from the boy's school both slipped and fell. Roy began crying and when they arrived at the house defendant had the boy remove his pants in order that defendant might determine whether he was injured. Shortly thereafter defendant's brother-in-law arrived, followed by his father-in-law, Oakley...

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31 cases
  • State v. Hall
    • United States
    • Iowa Supreme Court
    • 12 Noviembre 1975
    ...(Iowa 1974); State v. Sellers, 215 N.W.2d 231, 232 (Iowa 1974); State v. Jellema, 206 N.W.2d 679, 681 (Iowa 1973); State v. Schurman, 205 N.W.2d 732, 733--734 (Iowa 1973). Several rules have been consistently adhered to in considering such motions based on insufficiency of the evidence. Fir......
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    • Iowa Supreme Court
    • 29 Agosto 1979
    ...1976); In re Marriage of Meyers, 228 N.W.2d 64, 65-66 (Iowa 1975); State v. Johnson, 223 N.W.2d 226, 228 (Iowa 1974); State v. Schurman, 205 N.W.2d 732, 735 (Iowa 1973). It must be conceded that this well settled rule has been inconsistently applied in cases of the parol evidence rule. In s......
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    • 14 Noviembre 1973
    ...See State v. Williams, 207 N.W.2d 98, 109 (Iowa 1973); State v. Houston, 206 N.W.2d 687, 690--691 (Iowa 1973); State v. Schurman, 205 N.W.2d 732, 735 (Iowa 1973); State v. Bruno, 204 N.W.2d 879, 884 (Iowa 1973). But see Henry v. State of Mississippi, 379 U.S. 443, 446--451, 85 S.Ct. 564, 56......
  • State v. Langley
    • United States
    • Iowa Supreme Court
    • 17 Mayo 1978
    ...copulation per os, State v. Simpson, 243 Iowa 65, 50 N.W.2d 601; State v. Farris, 189 Iowa 505, 178 N.W. 361, or per anus. State v. Schurman, 205 N.W.2d 732 (Iowa); State v. Kaster, 160 N.W.2d 856 (Iowa). Cf. Rose v. Locke, 423 U.S. 48, 96 S.Ct. 243, 46 L.Ed.2d 185. We find defendant's firs......
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