Alexis Gilbert was only seven months old when her short life came to a violent end on January 21, 2008. Matthew Elliott was charged with her murder and ultimately convicted of willful injury causing serious injury and child endangerment resulting in death. On appeal, Elliott claims the district court erred in certain evidentiary rulings and in its response to a question from the jury during deliberations. He additionally claims his trial attorneys were ineffective in failing to challenge the marshalling instruction for willful injury causing serious injury under our supreme court's recent holding in State v. Schuler,774 N.W.2d 294 (Iowa 2009). Finding no error prejudicial to Elliot, we affirm his convictions and sentences.
I. Background Facts and Proceedings.
Alexis was born in June 2007, to sixteen-year-old Kristina. They lived with Kristina's mother, Jean, and Jean's eight-year-old son, Benjamin, in a two-story house in West Des Moines. Sometime after Alexis was born, Jean allowed Matthew Elliott move into the house after he escaped from the Fort Des Moines Correctional Facility. Jean instructed the family members to keep quiet about Elliott's presence in the home, as it would violate her housing contract. About a week and one half before Alexis died, Jean's twenty-year-old son, Matthew Gilbert (Gilbert), joined the household.