This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
State of Minnesota,
Steven M. Hahn,
Filed January 18, 2000
Hennepin County District Court
File No. 98068472
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, Suite 1400, NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101; and
Amy Klobuchar, Hennepin County Attorney, Paul R. Scoggin, Assistant County Attorney, Linda M. Freyer, Assistant County Attorney, C-2100 Government Center, Minneapolis, MN 55487 (for respondent)
William E. McGee, Fourth District Public Defender, Warren R. Sagstuen, Assistant Public Defender, 317 Second Avenue South, Suite 200, Minneapolis, MN 55401-2700 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Short, Presiding Judge, Shumaker, Judge, and Anderson, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Appellant Steven M. Hahn challenges his judgment of conviction for fifth-degree assault under Minn. Stat. § 609.224 (1998), arguing the evidence was insufficient to satisfy the intent requirement. We affirm.
Steven Hahn and Cathy Wilber had had an intimate relationship, parted, and later resumed dating.
On June 21, 1998, Hahn entered Wilber's home. He found her in bed with her roommate, Steve Skaret. Hahn and Skaret exchanged words and began fighting. They moved into various rooms of the house, fighting all the while. They eventually went outside and continued to fight in the driveway. Wilber testified that Hahn hit her twice and caused injuries to her lip and forehead. Hahn denied hitting Wilber, but suggested that she might have gotten hit while he was trying to defend himself against Skaret.
The evidence was in conflict as to how the fight started, who started it, Wilber's participation, Wilber's contradictory statements to the police, and whether or not Wilber was injured.
The state charged Hahn with burglary with intent to commit assault and burglary with intent to commit theft. The jury found Hahn not guilty of the charges but found him guilty of the lesser-included misdemeanor offense of assault in the fifth degree. On appeal, Hahn challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to support that conviction.
D E C I S I O N
Where there is a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence, our review on appeal is limited to a painstaking analysis of the record to determine whether the evidence, when viewed in a light most favorable to the conviction, was sufficient to permit the jurors to reach the verdict they did. State v. Webb, 440 N.W.2d 426, 430 (Minn. 1989). We must assume that the jury believed the state's witnesses and disbelieved any evidence to the contrary. State v. Moore, 438 N.W.2d 101, 108 (Minn. 1989).
Hahn argues that the evidence was insufficient to satisfy the element of intent under Minn. Stat. § 609.224, subd. 1(2) (1998) (fifth-degree assault) as defined by Minn. Stat. § 609.02, subd. 9(3) (1998) (intent). Specifically, Hahn claims that the evidence is insufficient to support the jury's finding that he inflicted bodily harm on the victim "intentionally" rather than inadvertently.
Fifth-degree assault under Minnesota law is defined as an act with intent to cause fear in another of immediate bodily harm or death, or intentional infliction or attempt to inflict bodily harm upon another. Minn. Stat § 609.224, subd. 1.
Criminal intent is established if
the actor either has a purpose to do the thing or cause the result specified or believes that the act performed by the actor, if successful, will cause that result.
Minn. Stat. § 609.02, subd. 9(3).
Because intent is a state of mind, it is generally proved through inferences drawn from a person's words or actions in light of all the surrounding circumstances. State v. Kirch, 322 N.W.2d 770, 773 (Minn. 1982).
Here, the testimony of Wilber, Skaret and others, and physical evidence of Wilber's injuries, if believed, support an inference that Hahn intentionally struck Wilber. See State v. Andrews, 388 N.W.2d 723, 728 (Minn. 1986) (pointing out events before, during and after a crime "are relevant to the totality of the circumstances" from which an inference of intent may be drawn).
Hahn disputes Wilber's testimony and argues that she was not credible. He points to inconsistencies in her statements to the police and in her trial testimony. He contends that the credible evidence supports his suggestion that Wilber was "caught in the cross-fire," and that, if he struck her, the striking was unintentional and inadvertent. The jury determines both the weight of the evidence and the credibility of witnesses. State v. Daniels, 361 N.W.2d 819, 826 (Minn. 1985). Inconsistencies and conflicts in the testimony of witnesses do not automatically mean the testimony is false, and are not bases for reversal. State v. Stufflebean, 329 N.W.2d 314, 319 (Minn. 1983). This may be especially true when the victim of a crime is recounting a traumatic or stressful event. Id. The question of the improbability of a particular version of events is for the jury to assess. Clark v. Chicago & N.W. Ry. Co., 226 Minn. 375, 381, 33 N.W.2d 484, 487 (1948).
The jury had the opportunity to observe the demeanor of the witnesses and to evaluate their testimony. The jury was in a unique position to resolve credibility issues. See State v. Pieschke, 295 N.W.2d 580, 585 (Minn. 1980) (noting that even though both parties' stories were incredible, question of credibility was for the jury). There is no basis to overturn the jury's verdict.