DES MOINES – The Iowa Court of Appeals affirmed the ruling of a district court in connection to a four-vehicle accident in 2014 near Sheffield that put a Wisconsin woman on a ventilator and sent an Iowa Falls man to prison.
Matthew Schlachter appealed his conviction and sentence for serious injury by vehicle, claiming his counsel was ineffective in allowing him to enter an Alford plea without a factual basis and in failing to advocate for an appropriate sentencing recommendation. Schlachter also asserted the district court abused its discretion by pronouncing his sentence in accordance with a fixed policy.
The Iowa Court of Appeals concluded Schlachter’s counsel was not ineffective and that the district court did not abuse its discretion in determining the sentence, as it affirmed Schlachter’s conviction and sentence.
The ruling stems from an accident that took place around 2:30 p.m. on August 27, 2014. Multiple 911 calls reported a black Chevrolet Colorado pickup truck driving at a high rate of speed and swerving through multiple lanes of traffic and onto the shoulder. Shortly thereafter, Iowa State Patrol troopers and Franklin County Sheriff’s deputies responded to an automobile crash involving multiple vehicles, including a black Chevrolet Colorado. There were several serious injuries, including one driver – Anne Grady of Madison, Wisconsin – who had to be life-flighted by Mercy Air Life to Mercy Medical Center North Iowa in Mason City in critical condition and temporarily placed on a ventilator.
Two officers went to the hospital and made contact with Schlachter, who was the driver of the black Chevrolet Colorado. Schlachter gave the officers permission to locate his driver’s license in his jeans. While looking for Schlachter’s driver’s license, the officers discovered a pipe that smelled of burnt marijuana and a baggie with a white powdery residue, later identified as methamphetamine. The officers secured a search warrant allowing medical personnel to collect urine and blood from Schlachter. Schlachter’s specimens were positive for amphetamines and opiates.
On January 16, 2015, the State charged Schlachter with three counts of serious injury by vehicle. On October 19, 2015, after negotiations with the State, Schlachter entered an Alford plea to one count of serious injury by vehicle. The district court sentenced Schlachter to five years in prison.