This opinion will be unpublished and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
In the Matter of the
Welfare of: J.P.M., Child.
Filed May 23, 2000
Anoka County District Court
File No. J7-99-52069
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 525 Park St., Suite 500, St. Paul, MN 55103; and
Robert M.A. Johnson, Anoka County Attorney, Mary K. Doty, Assistant County Attorney, Anoka County Government Ctr., 2100 Third Ave., 7th Floor, Anoka, MN 55303 (for respondent county)
John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Charlann Winking, Assistant State Public Defender, 2829 University Ave. S.E., Ste. 600, Minneapolis, MN 55414-3230 (for appellant J.P.M.)
Considered and decided by Amundson, Presiding Judge, Randall, Judge, and Foley, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
On June 30, 1999, respondent Anoka County filed a petition alleging appellant J.P.M. was a delinquent child because he made terroristic threats in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.713, subd. 1 (1998). J.P.M. pleaded not guilty and the case was set for trial. After trial, J.P.M. was adjudicated delinquent and ordered placed under the supervision of Anoka County Juvenile Corrections until September 2, 2000, and required to complete 25 hours of community service by March 3, 2000, or pay a fine.
On appeal from the district court order adjudicating him delinquent for making terroristic threats, J.P.M. contends there was no credible evidence that he violated Minn. Stat. § 609.713, subd. 1. Because there was sufficient evidence to find that J.P.M. threatened to commit a crime of violence with the purpose of terrorizing others or causing serious public inconvenience, or reckless disregard of the risk of causing such terror or inconvenience, we affirm.
The statute under which appellant was adjudicated delinquent provides:
Whoever threatens, directly or indirectly, to commit any crime of violence with purpose to terrorize another or to cause evacuation of a building, place of assembly, * * * or otherwise to cause serious public inconvenience, or in a reckless disregard of the risk of causing such terror or inconvenience may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than five years or to payment of a fine of not more than $10,000, or both.
Minn. Stat. § 609.713, subd. 1 (1998). The district court found beyond a reasonable doubt that appellant threatened to bomb Centennial Middle School with purpose or reckless disregard to terrorize another or cause evacuation or serious public inconvenience. Appellant contends there is insufficient evidence to prove he made threats to commit a crime of violence, or made any such statements with intent to terrorize another or in reckless disregard of the risk of terrorizing another.
When reviewing a sufficiency of the evidence claim, this court views the record and reasonable inferences therefrom in the light most favorable to the juvenile court’s adjudication. In re Welfare of S.A.M., 570 N.W.2d 162, 167 (Minn. App. 1997); see Dale v. State, 535 N.W.2d 619, 623 (Minn. 1995) (reviewing record in light most favorable to fact finder’s verdict). The evidence must be sufficient, given the presumption of innocence, to permit the fact finder to reach a guilty verdict, and it must be assumed that the fact finder disbelieved the defense witnesses and believed those of the state. Dale, 535 N.W.2d at 623; see also In re Welfare of L.B., 404 N.W.2d 341, 345 (Minn. App. 1987) (applying same standard in juvenile matters).
While J.P.M. contends the state “failed to meet its burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that [he] actually made any threats,” the evidence shows that (1) C.C. and S.R. testified that they each heard J.P.M. say he was going to bring a bomb to school in science class on April 21; (2) J.S. testified that as she was walking in the hallway on her way to lunch, she heard J.P.M. tell one of his friends not to come to school the next day because he was going to blow it up; and (3) A.S. testified that while walking to her locker she heard J.P.M. say he was going to bring a bomb or gun to school the next day. Only J.P.M. testified that he did not make such statements. After explaining that he typically ate lunch with J.P.M., M.H. testified that he probably would have remembered a bomb threat and W.H. testified that he remembered discussing the Columbine incident on April 21, but he did not hear J.P.M. say he was going to bring a bomb to school.
Because the district court did not specifically find appellant made threats in the hallway, J.P.M. argues that the court could not find the testimony of J.S. or A.S. credible. Therefore, appellant contends there is insufficient evidence that he made a threat. Further, when C.C. spoke with Officer Rausch on April 22 and Officer Brown on May 5, he said he did not recall a bomb threat. But C.C called Officer Brown a couple days later because C.C. remembered hearing such a statement and testified accordingly at trial. J.P.M. contends that C.C.’s prior inconsistent statements indicate the unreliability of his testimony regarding J.P.M.’s threat. In addition, J.P.M. claims that C.C.’s testimony that he was not warned to stay away from school on April 22 conflicts with S.R.’s testimony that she heard J.P.M. warn C.C. to stay home because he planned to bring a bomb.
J.P.M. contends this “inconsistent and contradictory evidence” raises reasonable doubt as to whether he made any statement that could be construed as a threat. Relying on a 1965 opinion, J.P.M. argues this court should reverse because the trier of fact did not find the state’s witnesses credible in several instances and selectively accepted other testimony. See State v. Kemp, 272 Minn. 447, 450, 138 N.W.2d 610, 612 (1965) (reversing robbery conviction and granting new trial because “the evidence to overcome the presumption of innocence is so completely dependent upon a single witness whose testimony, considered in the light of the record as a whole, is of dubious veracity”). In Kemp, the jury was deprived of the victim’s prior inconsistent testimony at a preliminary hearing and a disinterested party’s affidavit confirming the defendant was not at the scene at the time of the crime. Id. at 449-50, 138 N.W.2d at 611. Kemp was convicted of burglary solely on the basis of the victim’s trial testimony. Id. at 449, 138 N.W.2d at 611. Because four witnesses testified to hearing J.P.M. make a bomb threat and the jury was not deprived of any evidence, Kemp is factually distinguishable from the present case.
The trier of fact is entitled to weigh the evidence and determine the credibility of witnesses. State v. Bias, 419 N.W.2d 480, 484 (Minn. 1988). To determine whether there is sufficient evidence to sustain a conviction, a reviewing court assumes the trier of fact believed all evidence consistent with the adjudication and disbelieved all inconsistent evidence. State v. Thames, 599 N.W.2d 122, 126-27 (Minn. 1999). Despite J.P.M.’s contrary assertions and the contentions of his witnesses, the trier of fact was entitled to believe the testimony of the state’s witnesses and disbelieve all contrary evidence. We conclude there was sufficient evidence to prove that J.P.M. made a terroristic threat.
J.P.M. also argues the state failed to prove he made the threat “with purpose to terrorize another or to cause evacuation of a building” or “in a reckless disregard of the risk of causing such terror or inconvenience.” Minn. Stat. § 609.713, subd. 1. To be convicted of making terroristic threats, the defendant must “utter the threat with the purpose of terrorizing another” or act with reckless disregard as to the risk of causing such terror. State v. Schweppe, 306 Minn. 395, 400-01, 237 N.W.2d 609, 614 (1975). “Purpose in this context means aim, objective, or intention.” Id. at 400, 237 N.W.2d at 614 (citation omitted). “Terrorize means to cause extreme fear by use of violence or threats.” Id. (citation omitted). While the effect of terroristic threats on the victim is not an essential element of the crime, it may bear on the defendant’s intent in making the threats. Id. at 401, 237 N.W.2d at 614.
Because the state’s witnesses (1) did not take J.P.M. seriously or thought he was joking; (2) were not frightened by the comment; (3) did not report it to school administration or the police; and (4) did not stay away from school on April 22, J.P.M. contends there is no evidence he intended to frighten or terrorize anyone. “Intent * * * is a subjective state of mind usually established only by reasonable inference from surrounding circumstances.” Schweppe, 306 Minn. at 401, 237 N.W.2d at 614. The evidence shows that J.P.M. repeated the bomb threat at least twice because individual witnesses heard the statements in the classroom and hallway, and S.R., J.S., and A.S. each testified that they were frightened by J.P.M.’s comments. In light of J.P.M.’s knowledge of the April 20, 1999 Columbine High School tragedy, he knew or had reason to know his comments on April 21 might cause terror or cause the school to be evacuated.
The Minnesota Supreme Court has expressed concern that the broad language of Minn. Stat. § 609.713, subd. 1, carries “the danger of prosecutorial abuse in that innocent or idle threats could be too easily construed to constitute a terroristic threat.” Schweppe, 306 Minn. at 405 n.4, 237 N.W.2d at 617 n.4. We see no danger of prosecutorial abuse in this case. J.P.M.’s threats, especially considering the context in which they were made, cannot be characterized as idle or innocent. Despite the presumption of innocence, the evidence, viewed in a light most favorable to the juvenile court’s adjudication, was sufficient to permit the court to conclude J.P.M. made the threats with the purpose of causing terror to another or evacuation of the school or, in reckless disregard of causing such terror or inconvenience.
* Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.