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Iowa Supreme Court denies further appeal on two Floyd County cases

By Bob Steenson, 

The Iowa Supreme Court has denied further review in two Floyd County cases that had been heard by the state Court of Appeals earlier this year.

The Iowa Court of Appeals in March had affirmed the conviction of Samuel Dight on a charge of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, and affirmed the conviction of Anthony Dwayne Jackson Pace on a charge of domestic abuse assault while displaying a dangerous weapon.

The Iowa Supreme Court earlier this week released orders that deny further appeals in the cases, letting the Appeals Court decisions stand.

Samuel Dight
Samuel Dight

Dight, now age 24, of Charles City, was stopped by Charles City police on March 28, 2017, after someone reported a person possibly smoking an illegal drug in a parked car. According to the criminal complaint, the officer reported a strong smell of marijuana and searched the vehicle.

Court documents say police found 28.62 grams of marijuana and $3,900 in cash in the vehicle, along with a glass pipe, baggies, a scale and a grinder. Dight was charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, a Class D felony, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Dight pleaded guilty to possession with intent to deliver and was sentenced to five years in prison, but then appealed that plea, arguing that his plea was not voluntary because the district court failed to advise him of an additional surcharge fee and failed to advise him that his plea could affect his federal immigration status.

The appeals court ruled that Dight’s attorney, Andrew C. Abbott of Waterloo, failed to file a motion challenging the plea so he did not “preserve error,” and therefore Dight could not challenge the plea even though the appeals court agreed the district court had not advised Dight of the surcharge or the possible impact on his immigration status.

The court also ruled, however, that Dight could continue to seek postconviction relief on a claim of ineffective counsel.

The Iowa Court of Appeals had also affirmed the conviction of Pace, now age 30, of Charles City, of the aggravated misdemeanor charge of domestic assault while displaying a dangerous weapon.

Pace had been convicted of the charge in Floyd County District Court and given a suspended jail sentence with credit for the time he had been held before trial, and two years probation.

Pace later appealed the verdict, arguing that statements from a young child that had been introduced into evidence were hearsay and violated Pace’s constitutional right to confront a witness against him. He also moved for a new trial, saying new evidence had been discovered.

The appeals court ruled that the child’s statement that Pace “was trying to kill (his) mom,” made to police shortly after they arrived, was not testimony and not subject to the confrontation rule.

The appeals court had also ruled that purported new evidence, a Facebook post allegedly made by the victim where she said she had lied about Pace threatening her, was not supported by evidence that the victim had actually made the post or regarding the circumstances under which the post was made.

The appeals court did rule that a sentence requiring Pace to pay room and board fees for his time in the county jail before trial needed to be re-examined by the district court because it had made that sentence before knowing what those fees would be and whether Pace would be able to repay them.