Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

October 18, 2013

Appeals Court affirms Mitchell decision


Journal-Express

Des Moines — Joshua Tyler Mitchell, who was arrested on drug charges in Marion County in November 2007, has lost an appeal regarding his conviction and 25-year prison sentence. 

On Nov. 3, 2007, Joshua Mitchell was a passenger in a vehicle that was stopped in Marion County because it only had one headlight. The driver did not have proof of insurance, and a deputy sheriff determined the vehicle should be impounded. As part of that process, officers removed items from the vehicle. The contents of the vehicle included Coleman fuel, Heet, paper towels, a coffee maker, Mason jars, tubing, a gravel vacuum cleaner, acetone, MSM tablets, small plastic bags, and matches.

These items may be used in the manufacture of methamphetamine. The driver, Violet Mitchell (Mitchell’s aunt), stated Mitchell had asked her and the other passenger of the vehicle, Pam Goemaat, to purchase some of the items. Mitchell told an officer he was building an aquarium at home. Mitchell was charged with conspiracy to manufacture a controlled substance (methamphetamine), in violation of Iowa Code section 124.401(1)(b)(7) (2007).

The case proceeded to a jury trial with evidence as outlined above. Ricky Maples and Christina Thomas testified they had an agreement with Mitchell to provide him with pseudoephedrine in exchange for methamphetamine. Thomas testified Mitchell told her, “he needed the pills to make the product, to make the meth.” Pharmacy records showed Maples and Thomas had purchased pseudoephedrine on multiple occasions. They testified that within a few days of delivering the pseudoephedrine to Mitchell they would receive methamphetamine from him. 

Mitchell was convicted by a jury and later sentenced to up to 25 years in prison. He appealed, but the appeal was deemed "frivolous" under Iowa Rule of Appellate Procedure. In April 2010, he filed an application for post-conviction relief, claiming his counsel was ineffective. 

"Even if defense counsel had breached an essential duty, Mitchell has not shown the result of the proceeding would have been different," Senior Judge Mahan wrote in the opinion. "As noted by the district court, the State had a very strong case that Mitchell was involved in a conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine. Not only was there evidence Mitchell had purchased items used in the manufacture of methamphetamine, there was evidence he had asked the two other people in the vehicle with him to purchase items used in the manufacture of the controlled substance." 

"We conclude Mitchell has failed to show he received ineffective assistance of counsel. We affirm the decision of the district court denying Mitchell’s request for post-conviction relief," Mahan concluded. 

The full opinion can be read at http://www.iowacourts.gov/About_the_Courts/Court_of_Appeals/Court_of_Appeals_Opinions/Recent_Opinions/20130724/3-496.pdf