Man Appeals His 100-Year Sentence To State's High Court

Nov 17, 2015

The Iowa Supreme Court heard arguments Monday night in the appeal of a 100-year sentence given to a Waterloo man in 2013. Donald Reed was convicted on drug-related charges and received an enhanced sentence because of a prior crime he committed when he was 17.  

Reed argues since he was a minor at the time of the initial crime, the enhanced sentence is cruel and unusual, but  the state of Iowa says his sentence is appropriate.  Reed stakes his appeal in part on a previous Iowa Supreme Court ruling, which found that an enhanced sentence for a man convicted of statutory rape was unconstitutional since he committed his first crime at the age of 12.

"Given the fact that this is a drug dealer, a long-term criminal, who had two guns in house with two children, was given a 100-year sentence, probably won't serve nearly half, this was just not gross or disproportionate," said Assistant Attorney General Linda Hines.

Reed’s attorney Patricia Reynolds says earlier Iowa Supreme Court decisions dictate that juvenile convictions should get special consideration during sentencing, due to the offender's lack of maturity when they committed the initial crime. 

Reed also raised issues about whether he had ineffective trial counsel and claims there wasn't enough evidence to convict him of the charges. He says police failed to prove he was living at the residence where the drugs and guns were found.

"The house apparently was rented in the name of Mr. Chad Wolf, utilities were in the name of Mr. Chad Wolf," said Reynolds. "There's a critical line between suspicion and proof beyond a reasonable doubt."

Hines told the court that Reed’s car was seen in the evening and following morning before police executed a warrant. She also pointed to the fact that law enforcement observed Reed taking out the garbage and entering the home without knocking.

Monday's arguments took place at Valley High School in West Des Moines. Justices occasionally hear cases in locations other than the judicial building to make oral arguments more accessible to the public.  

The court will likely deliver its decision in two to three months.