The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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September 20, 2013

Court of Appeals denies man's request for post-conviction relief

CLINTON — The Iowa Court of Appeals has affirmed the denial a man’s request for post-conviction relief.

In a Wednesday judgement, the Iowa Court of Appeals found that John Carter did not prove he was prejudiced by his counsel’s decisions.

On Feb. 22, 2008, Carter was charged with first-degree robbery of the 24/7 Convenience Store, 401 Second Ave. South. According to the decision, he entered the store with a large mallet or sledgehammer, demanded money and swung the weapon at the clerk. He struck the cash register several times and fled the store after the clerk informed him the police had been notified.

According to the decision, Carter admitted to the robbery, but added he did not know why he asked for money as his actions were more about scaring someone. A trial was held May 12 and 13, 2008, with the jury finding Carter guilty. He was sentenced to mandatory imprisonment of up to 25 years.

Carter applied for post-conviction relief in April 2010, arguing that his counsel was ineffective. He stated that individuals (not a doctor) told him that he had intermittent explosive disorder and that he used crack cocaine prior to entering the store. He argued that his counsel should have investigated a defense of intoxication or insanity and failed to advise him regarding the evidence and the possibility of plea negotiations.

“Carter states that had he ‘testified that he unfortunately was high on crack cocaine, a drug with which he was not personally familiar, and that he was unable to explain his conduct, coupled with an apology to (the victim), the jury might well have returned a not guilty verdict,’” the decision reads.

The Court of Appeals’ judgment continues that during an Oct. 3, 2012 hearing, Carter’s counsel said his contacts with his client showed no indication of diminished capacity or insanity. He added that Carter’s testimony would have likely hurt his case more than it helped it.

“This kind of mere speculation does not rise to the level of undermining our confidence in the verdict, especially when we consider the overwhelming evidence presented against Carter,” wrote Iowa Court of Appeals’ judges when denying his appeal.

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