Ad-Express and Daily Iowegian, Centerville, IA

March 14, 2014

Appanoose County man loses appeal

By Matt Milner
SE Iowa Digital Content Editor

---- — DES MOINES — The Iowa Court of Appeals has ruled an error in a court document did not provide enough grounds for an Appanoose County man’s claim of ineffective legal representation.

In June 2012, Alfred Crosson was chaeged with burglary, willful injury, and two counts of assault while participating in a felony. Crosson agreed to plead guilty to assault causing bodily injury as part of a plea agreement.

In the written guilty plea to a single count of assault causing bodily injury, Crosson said he struck Ean Popejoy. But the amended trial information named Jessica O’Hair as the victim in that count. Crosson received a one-year jail sentence, but appealed based on the error in the trial information.

At issue is whether the defense attorney who failed to discover the error in the documents was ineffective. Crosson’s appeal claims the evidence does not support the charge of striking and injuring O’Hair. The state says the error was harmless.

The appeals court pointed to Crosson’s own plea in its ruling. Crosson, they concluded, “believed he was pleading guilty to an assault causing bodily injury to Popejoy.” So long as the plea meets basic standards for being voluntary and intelligent, a defendant can “plead guilty to an offense not technically charged in the information.

The court’s decision says the defense counsel was competent in the case and that the error does not establish grounds for a successful appeal.