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Iowa court upholds prison sentence

Says man, who was arrested in FD for buglary, forfeited his rights

A Marshalltown man who pleaded guilty to third-degree burglary will have to serve the remainder of his prison sentence after the Iowa Supreme Court affirmed the original sentence on Friday.

Travis James Jordan, 49, of Marshalltown, appealed his five-year prison sentence on the grounds that the prosecutor in the case was supposed to “remain silent” during sentencing, as per the plea agreement made between the parties.

Jordan was arrested in Fort Dodge on Sept. 24, 2018, when Fort Dodge Police officers observed him walking down an alley from garage to garage and found him in possession of burglar tools. He was charged with one count of third-degree burglary and one count of possession of burglar tools.

On Oct. 22, 2018, the defense and the prosecution reached a plea agreement that Jordan would plead guilty to the third-degree burglary charge and the state would dismiss the possession charge and stay quiet during sentencing so Jordan could argue for probation from the judge. This agreement also released the defendant with supervision to await sentencing. Jordan’s sentencing hearing was scheduled for Nov. 26, 2018.

However, the defendant failed to appear at the hearing, so a warrant for his arrest was issued. Jordan was eventually arrested on June 2, 2019, and was held in custody until his sentencing hearing scheduled for Aug. 19, 2019.

At the hearing, Webster County Assistant Attorney Brad McIntyre said he agreed with the pre-sentencing investigation report that recommended an incarceration term of up to five years for Jordan.

Jordan’s defense attorney did not object to the recommendation or to the fact that the prosecution did not remain silent during the sentencing, which were the main arguments the defendant made in his appeal.

“Had defense counsel objected, the trial court would have allowed him to either withdraw his plea, or have a new sentencing hearing requiring the county attorney to specifically perform the terms of the plea agreement,” the appeal read. “… At the time of the breach, Jordan’s counsel had a duty to object, and failure to do so was a failure to perform an essential duty and it resulted in prejudice to Jordan.”

In its brief, the state argued that it was not obligated to abide by the plea agreement because Jordan had already violated it by failing to appear at his original sentencing.

“His breach relieved the State of its obligation to remain silent at sentencing,” the state wrote.

The Iowa Supreme Court agreed with the state in this case, affirming Jordan’s prison sentence.

In a 10-page written ruling, Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Susan Christensen wrote that the court affirmed Jordan’s sentence “because the defendant forfeited any rights to enforce the plea agreement when he breached it by absconding and failing to appear at the originally scheduled sentencing.”

Jordan is incarcerated at the North Central Correctional Facility in Rockwell City. His tentative date of discharge is June 26, 2022.

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