Judge delays Pothast sentencing

2013-06-26T10:00:00Z 2013-09-17T17:47:23Z Judge delays Pothast sentencingBy DENNIS MAGEE, dennis.magee@wcfcourier.com Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier

WAVERLY, Iowa --- Sentencing for Alex Pothast, 20, won't be until at least July 26.

When the hearing happens, Joshua Young, who died in March 2010, may be among those offering victim impact statements.

Judge Gregg Rosenbladt delayed proceedings scheduled Monday so that the Bremer County District Court can sort through several motions. Included is a request for a second trial filed by defense attorney Matthew Lindholm.

Jurors in May convicted Pothast of vehicular homicide based on intoxication and of vehicular homicide based on reckless driving. Both offenses are felonies, and a 25-year prison sentence would be "a likely argument," according to County Attorney Kasey Wadding.

Authorities arrested Pothast after a fatal crash in March 2010 that claimed the life of Young, 17. Witnesses, including a fellow high school student who survived the crash, testified Pothast was driving up to 100 mph on a gravel road when the vehicle rolled several times.

Multiple witnesses also told jurors they saw Pothast drinking earlier in the evening, and testing revealed he had a blood-alcohol level of .157 percent. The legal threshold is .08.

Lindholm, however, in court documents argues Wadding presented insufficient evidence showing "the defendant's intoxication was the cause in fact of Mr. Young's death." As he did during the trial, Lindholm also objects to evidence and opinions offered by Robert Monserrate, one of the state's witnesses.

Monserrate is an analyst, researcher and supervisor at the Iowa Department of Public Safety's crime lab in Ankeny, which tested Pothast's blood sample.

Wadding is resisting the idea of a second trial, arguing the trial process worked as intended.

"The function of a jury is to sort out the evidence and place credibility where it belongs," he wrote in his response.

" ... The jury simply came to the conclusions that common sense and reason led them to make in compliance with instructions," Wadding added.

Wadding, though, wants the sentencing judge to consider an album created by Young in 2006 when he was in junior high.

"He just describes his family. It's actually kind of sweet," Wadding said Monday.

Pothast's attorney concedes the album is "addressed to Mr. Young's immediate family members and describes various life experiences and feelings Mr. Young had with each." But Lindholm objects to the album as a victim impact statement, in part, because Young did not sign the document.

Wadding contends the teenager's album establishes the loss suffered by his close relatives.

"Even more importantly it gives voice to the deceased victim and what his loss is as � a result of the defendant's actions," Wadding adds in court documents.

Lindholm also wants to block reports and information about alleged criminal mischief Pothast committed in Black Hawk County. Though a plea hearing is scheduled July 1, the case has not yet been resolved.

"Assuming the sentencing court takes into consideration the Black Hawk County offense, the defendant would be punished for a crime that he had not yet been convicted" of, Lindholm argued.

The charge stems from more than four dozen broken windows in September and October in Cedar Falls that Pothast and two others allegedly shot out using marbles and slingshots. Damage estimates ran into the thousands of dollars, according to police reports.

Wadding intends to put five Cedar Falls police officers on the stand at Pothast's sentencing in Bremer County. Capt. Jeff Harrenstein, Lt. Mark Howard, Investigator Gavin Carman and officers Chris Copp and James Gray investigated the vandalism.

"The state would assert that the defendant's additional criminal activity in Black Hawk County is important to the court's consideration for sentencing," Wadding wrote.

Copyright 2015 Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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