This opinion will be unpublished and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
James Antwan Scott,
Filed December 5, 2000
Alan L. Mitchell, St. Louis County Attorney, Mark S. Rubin, Assistant County Attorney, 100 North Fifth Avenue West, Room 501, Duluth, MN 55802-1298 (for respondent)
John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Ann B. McCaughan, Assistant Public Defender, 2829 University Avenue Southeast, Suite 600, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant)
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Appellant James Antwan Scott challenges his conviction of gross misdemeanor assault in the fifth degree, contending that the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to support the jury verdict of guilty. We affirm.
This case arises out of a domestic disturbance occurring at the residence of Scott and his girlfriend J.J., the victim. J.J. refused to testify at trial despite being served with a subpoena. At trial, the district court permitted the prosecution to present a recorded telephone conversation between an individual and a 911 emergency operator. The recording revealed that, following a hang-up phone call, the operator called an individual, who identified herself as J.J. and stated that Scott "hit me in the face." Shortly after the 911 emergency call, a police officer arrived at the scene and observed that J.J.'s "face was red and puffy." The district court permitted the officer to testify as to what J.J. told him. J.J. reported that during an argument over whether to take the couple's son to a babysitter, Scott slapped her on the face. Scott was convicted of gross misdemeanor assault in the fifth degree.
In considering a claim of insufficient evidence, our review is limited to a painstaking analysis of the record to determine whether the evidence, when viewed in the light most favorable to the conviction, is sufficient to allow the jurors to reach the verdict that they did. State v. Webb, 440 N.W.2d 426, 430 (Minn. 1989). The reviewing court must assume 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). The reviewing court will not disturb the verdict if the jury, acting with due regard for the presumption of innocence and the requirement of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, could reasonably conclude the defendant was guilty of the charged offense. State v. Alton, 432 N.W.2d 754, 756 (Minn. 1988).
Scott asserts that his conviction merits more rigorous scrutiny because the state's case was built entirely upon circumstantial evidence. See State v. Bias, 419 N.W.2d 480, 484 (Minn. 1988) (conviction based on circumstantial evidence may stand only if circumstances form "a complete chain which, in light of the evidence as a whole, leads so directly to the guilt of the accused as to exclude, beyond a reasonable doubt, any reasonable inference other than that of guilt" (citation omitted)). It is uncontroverted that J.J.'s out-of-court statements, properly admitted into evidence through exceptions to the hearsay rule, played a major role in securing Scott's conviction. These statements constitute direct evidence, not circumstantial evidence. See State v. Daniels, 380 N.W.2d 777, 781 (Minn. 1986) ("If the hearsay statements of * * * the only direct witnesses * * * are inadmissible, * * * [then] appellant's conviction rests on circumstantial evidence."); see also 2 Wigmore on Evidence § 479 (James H. Chadbourn rev. ed. 1979) ("[A]ll the statements received under the exceptions to the hearsay rule [are] genuinely testimony."). Thus, stricter scrutiny of the evidence is not warranted here. Given the direct and circumstantial evidence presented at trial, the evidence was sufficient for the jury to reach the conclusion that Scott committed the criminal act and had the requisite criminal intent. See State v. O'Brien, 352 N.W.2d 130, 132 (Minn. App. 1984).