This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2000).







State of Minnesota,





Stanley Clayton Dietz,




Filed February 27, 2001


Halbrooks, Judge


Norman County District Court

File No. K699210



Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 525 Park Street, Suite 500, St. Paul, MN 55103; and


Susan Rantal Nelson, Norman County Attorney, 318 East Main Street, Ada, MN 56510 (for respondent)


John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Chad M. Oldfather, Assistant Public Defender, 2829 University Avenue SE, Suite 600, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant)




            Considered and decided by Halbrooks, Presiding Judge, Schumacher, Judge, and Amundson, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


            Appellant Stanley Dietz challenges his conviction for domestic abuse, arguing that the evidence was insufficient as a matter of law to support his conviction.  Because we find the evidence sufficient to support the conviction, we affirm.


            On September 26, 1999, Christy Dietz arrived home around 1:00 a.m.  Appellant was in bed but awoke when Christy arrived.  Appellant got out of bed and the two began to argue.  Although the reason for the argument is disputed, it is undisputed that Christy said that she was going to leave and started to pack a bag.  In response, appellant went outside and disabled Christy’s car.  When he returned, the two continued arguing and then poured beer on each other.  Appellant went outside again, and Christy locked the door behind him.  Appellant rammed the door, breaking the doorjamb in the process.

Christy told appellant that she was going to call the police.  As she went for the phone, appellant kicked or hit it off the wall.  Appellant threw Christy on the couch, grabbed her wrists, and held her down so that she could not move.  He said, “Why don’t you just knock it off and go to bed?”

Eventually, Christy drove the couple’s other car about one-half mile to the home of a neighbor, Jim Spielman.  Spielman testified that Christy was upset, wet, and crying.  She identified herself and explained that she was upset because appellant had “trashed” the house.

Christy called the police.  Soon after the call, Norman County Deputy Sheriff Jeremy Thornton arrived and took Christy’s statement.  Christy told Thornton that she and appellant argued, appellant threw beer at her, she locked him out, he kicked down the door, and they struggled over her purse.  Both Spielman and Thornton testified that Christy smelled of beer but appeared to be sober.

Thornton went to the Dietz residence to speak with appellant.  Thornton observed empty beer cans in the sink and the broken doorjamb.  Appellant told Thornton that he had taken the phone off the wall so that Christy could not call her father.  He also said that Christy kicked him, and because she was drunk, he did not want her to drive.  Appellant said that Christy had grabbed a knife and held it at her side.  At trial, he testified that Christy also swung the knife at him.

Following a jury trial, appellant was convicted of one count of interference with an emergency call in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.78, subd. 2 (1998), and one count of domestic assault under Minn. Stat. § 609.2242, subd. 1(1) (1998).[1]  This appeal follows.        


In analyzing this challenge to the sufficiency of the state’s evidence, we must determine whether the evidence, viewed in a light most favorable to the conviction, was sufficient to permit the jury to reach a guilty verdict.  State v. Webb, 440 N.W.2d 426, 430 (Minn. 1989).  We will not disturb the verdict if the jury, acting with due regard for the presumption of innocence and for the state’s burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, could reasonably conclude that the defendant was proven guilty of the offense charged.  State v. Alton, 432 N.W.2d 754, 756 (Minn. 1988).

Appellant argues that the circumstantial evidence presented at trial was insufficient to prove the intent element of the domestic abuse charge.  Intent

means that the actor either has a purpose to do the thing or cause the result specified or believes that the act, if successful, will cause that result.


Minn. Stat. § 609.02, subd. 9(4) (1998).  Intent is a “subjective state of mind usually established only by reasonable inference from surrounding circumstances.”  State v. Schweppe, 306 Minn. 395, 401, 237 N.W.2d 609, 614 (1975) (citations omitted); accord State v. Cooper, 561 N.W.2d 175, 179 (Minn. 1997) (stating that “the [fact-finder] may infer that a person intends the natural and probable consequences of his actions”).  Moreover, although warranting stricter scrutiny, circumstantial evidence “is entitled to the same weight as any [other] evidence.”  State v. Ashby, 567 N.W.2d 21, 27 (Minn. 1997) (citation omitted).  Therefore, the fact that evidence of appellant’s intent is circumstantial does not mean that the evidence is insufficient.   

Appellant also argues that the evidence was insufficient because the statute requires an intent to cause fear, and in this case, the victim was not in fear of bodily harm.  See Minn. Stat. § 609.2242, subd. 1(1) (1998).  Christy’s testimony that she was afraid during the fight is not material.  Intent is determined by the appellant’s purpose.  See State v. Ott, 291 Minn. 72, 75, 189 N.W.2d 377, 379 (1971) (“[T]he intent of the actor, as contrasted with the effect upon the victim, becomes the focal point for inquiry.”).  The crime is completed if the acts are done intentionally to cause fear, and it is irrelevant whether the intended result is actually achieved.  Here, the jury concluded that appellant intended to cause fear.  This conclusion was based on the behavior of appellant and perhaps strengthened by Christy’s testimony that she was afraid.

Finally, appellant contends that Christy’s account of the incident lacks credibility because every time she told it, her account became more violent, and that, without her testimony, the evidence is insufficient.  At trial, appellant was given ample opportunity to question Christy’s credibility.  Appellant’s counsel cross-examined Christy and impeached her with prior statements.  But testimony of other witnesses supported Christy’s testimony.  Spielman testified that Christy arrived at his house upset, crying, and smelling of beer.  Thornton saw empty beer cans at the Dietz residence and the broken doorjamb.  Appellant himself admitted to knocking the phone off the wall.  The jury believed Christy and the other witnesses and disbelieved appellant.  See State v. Profit, 591 N.W.2d 451, 467 (Minn. 1999) (a reviewing court must recognize that the jury is in the best position to evaluate the credibility of witnesses); State v. Steinbuch, 514 N.W.2d 793, 800 (Minn. 1994) (determining the credibility of witnesses is the exclusive function of the jury).

We find that the evidence is sufficient to permit a jury to reach a guilty verdict on the domestic abuse charge. 


[1]  Minn. Stat. § 609.2242, subd. 1(1), reads:


Whoever does any of the following against a family or household member * * * commits an assault and is guilty of a misdemeanor:

(1) commits an act with intent to cause fear in another of immediate bodily harm or death * * * .