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Mason City man loses appeal on domestic abuse conviction

MASON CITY – A man who beat his wife mercilessly lost his appeal of a guilty verdict on two counts of domestic abuse assault.

Zachariah Jonathan Davis, age 33, appealed from the verdict reached in a bench trial based on a stipulated record finding him guilty of two counts of domestic abuse assault resulting in injury and the judgment and sentence entered after the verdict. The Iowa Court of Appeals ruled that Davis’ counsel was not ineffective in failing to properly seek the victim’s medical records. Nor was his counsel ineffective in allowing the defendant to proceed on a stipulated trial of the minutes and exhibits where the court followed the procedure to ensure the defendant made a voluntary and knowing waiver of his rights.

The confidential records of Davis’ wife were made available to the appeals court. The court ruled that there is nothing in those records indicating a different result would have been reached before the district court if counsel had been granted access to them. There is nothing to indicate the victim was aggressive or that would otherwise help Davis’s self-defense argument. The victim’s credibility was not a significant factor since Davis had essentially admitted he administered the injuries. The victim’s alleged drug use, character deficiencies, instability, and other history were made abundantly clear in depositions, as well, the court said, and the confidential medical records added little or nothing, let alone justify breaching the confidentiality of the victim’s medical records.

According to court records, the incident began on November 20, 2011, when Davis kicked his wife in the face, struck her in the back of her head with a “monkey fist” keychain, stepped on her neck, hit her under the eyes with a baseball bat, tied her wrists to her belt loops with zip ties, and otherwise hit and abused her through Thanksgiving Day of 2011. The victim’s mother went to the home she shared with Davis and their children, observed her extensive bruising, and took her to the hospital, where she was admitted on November 24, 2011. Law enforcement officers were called to the hospital and observed old and new bruising and red marks on the victim. Davis was interviewed and admitted causing several of the injuries but asserted they were administered in self-defense when the victim was under the influence of controlled substances. Tests taken for the victim at the hospital were negative for controlled substances.

A trial information filed on December 7, 2011, charged Davis with domestic assault resulting in injury, and on June 6, 2012, a trial information was filed charging him with sexual abuse in the third degree and four counts of domestic assault resulting in injury. Davis filed a notice he intended to rely on a theory of self-defense. The two trial informations were consolidated for trial. Davis filed a written waiver of his right to a jury trial and stipulated to a bench trial on the minutes of testimony and eleven other exhibits, which included depositions and other medical records that related to her treatment after the alleged injuries. All but two of the counts that charged domestic abuse resulting in injury were dismissed. The court found Davis guilty of both charges, and the appeals court has now upheld those convictions.

Davis was sentenced to jail time and probation, and a 5 year no contact order was imposed. He was also ordered to pay $11,199.13 in court costs and other fees, which he has paid in full.

Davis, Zachariah Jonathan CONVICTION UPHELD
Davis, Zachariah Jonathan
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