This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2000).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
David Howard Janisch,
Filed May 15, 2001
Hubbard County District Court
File No. K598684
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 525 Park Street, Suite 500, St. Paul, MN 55103; and
Gregory D. Larson, Hubbard County Attorney, P.O. Box 486, Park Rapids, MN 56470 (for respondent)
Thomas D. D’Albani, 205 Seventh Street N.W., Bemidji, MN 56601 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Willis, Presiding Judge, Klaphake, Judge, and Amundson, Judge.
On August 26, 1998, appellant David Janisch’s vehicle was stopped by police, and he was arrested and charged with gross misdemeanor DWI in violation of Minn. Stat. § 169.121, subd. 1(a), (d), (e), subd. 3(d)(2) (1998) (prescribing enhanced penalties for offender who has prior DWI convictions or revocations). A urine test revealed that appellant’s alcohol concentration at the time of the offense was .14. The parties stipulated that appellant’s urine sample was destroyed in December 1998 and that the criminal complaint was not served on appellant until January 1999. Appellant moved to dismiss the complaint, contending that the destruction of the sample deprived him of the opportunity “to establish to the Court through expert testimony that his blood alcohol concentration was under .10[.]” The district court denied the motion and, on stipulated facts, found appellant guilty. Because appellant failed to make an offer of proof to show that evidence from an independent test would have been exculpatory, he has failed to establish a basis for reversal. We therefore affirm appellant’s conviction.
“To succeed in a claim that lost or destroyed evidence constitutes reversible error, a defendant must show that the destruction was intentional and that the exculpatory value of the evidence was apparent and material.” State v. Friend, 493 N.W.2d 540, 545 (Minn. 1992) (citation omitted); see State v. Orfi, 511 N.W.2d 464, 472 (Minn. App. 1994) (defendant’s due process rights not violated where defendant failed to show destruction of evidence intentional or that evidence had exculpatory value), review denied (Minn. Mar. 15, 1994); State v. Schmid, 487 N.W.2d 539, 541 (Minn. App. 1992) (destruction of evidence claim requires consideration of whether destruction intentional, strength of state’s case if evidence available, and exculpatory value of evidence), review denied (Minn. Sept. 15, 1992). Police must make every effort to preserve evidence, where it is feasible to do so. During the investigatory stage of a criminal case, the value of any given piece of evidence is unknown, and police destruction of evidence leads to a natural inference of prejudice to a defendant that may result in a reversal of a conviction. See Schmid, 487 N.W.2d at 541-42.
In this case, however, appellant failed to show that the destroyed evidence had any exculpatory value. This prong is essential for a valid destruction of evidence claim. See Friend, 493 N.W.2d at 545. Such an offer of proof could have included evidence on law enforcement’s routine handling and storage of urine samples, and scientific evidence on the validity of such tests and the shelf life of the samples. Further, any prejudice to appellant arising from destruction of the evidence is overcome by other strong evidence of appellant’s guilt, including strong evidence of intoxication preceding and at the time of his arrest. See Schmid, 487 N.W.2d at 542. Because appellant failed to show that the destroyed urine sample had any exculpatory value, the trial court properly declined to dismiss the complaint and properly convicted appellant. See Friend, 493 N.W.2d at 545.