The case of a man convicted in the 2015 fatal stabbing of his girlfriend in Dubuque continues to wind its way through Iowa’s legal system.
An attorney for Eddie Hicks, 32, filed a legal brief April 13 asking the Iowa Supreme Court to overturn a ruling in April 2020 that dismissed his request for a new trial.
The brief, authored by Tiffany Joy Kragnes, a Des Moines attorney, contends that Hicks’ counsel in the 2020 proceeding was ineffective for failing to properly respond to prosecutors’ motions for summary judgment — a judgment entered by a court for one party against another without a full trial.
Hicks is serving life in prison after he was convicted of first-degree murder. Authorities said he stabbed his girlfriend, Kahdyesha Lemon, 21, more than 100 times and beat her in the head with a frying pan in June 2015.
Hicks testified during his trial that Lemon attacked him during an argument. He claimed self-defense and that he was still high on PCP at the time of the incident, affecting his judgment.
He also argued that some of Lemon’s wounds were caused by falling through a glass table, but were inaccurately characterized as stab wounds.
In August 2018, Hicks filed an application for a new trial. Among the grounds Hicks raised in his handwritten application were prosecutor misconduct, ineffective counsel and a violation of his Fifth Amendment rights.
Iowa District Court Judge Michael Shubatt ruled in April 2020 to deny Hicks’ request for a new trial. Shubatt ruled Hicks’ claims of ineffective counsel and prosecutorial misconduct in his 2016 murder trial were unfounded.
Kragnes requests that Supreme Court justices reverse the ruling of the district court, sending the case back to the local level for a new hearing with testimony.
Kragnes contends that Hicks received ineffective counsel because his attorneys in the post-conviction relief case failed to properly respond to prosecutors’ motions to dismiss the case.
In a brief responding to Hicks’ claims, Louis S. Sloven, an assistant attorney general for Iowa, writes that Hicks’ argument is “I lost, so my (post-conviction relief) counsel was ineffective.”
“But lawyers are not miracle workers,” Sloven writes. “Hicks had a long time to create a record that could withstand a motion for (dismissal), and he has failed to do that. He filed his own (post-conviction relief) exhibits, but he did not provide anything that created a genuine dispute of material fact as to whether there would be a reasonable probability of a different result at another trial with different counsel.”
Steve Davis, a spokesman for the Iowa Judicial Branch, said the two parties in the case will file final briefs to the high court at a later date.