This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2000).
IN COURT OF APPEALS
State of Minnesota,
Ronald Jose Brewer, Jr.,
Hennepin County District Court
File No. 99114172
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 525 Park Street, Suite 500, St. Paul, MN 55103; and
Amy Klobuchar, Hennepin County Attorney, Michael J. Richardson, Assistant County Attorney, C-2000 Government Center, Minneapolis, MN 55487 (for respondent)
Bradford W. Colbert, Assistant State Public Defender, 875 Summit Avenue, Room 254, St. Paul, MN 55105 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Anderson, Presiding Judge, Lansing, Judge, and Halbrooks, Judge.
In this appeal from his conviction of aggravated robbery, appellant argues that the testimony of the victim, who had opportunities to escape during the offense, was too inconsistent and implausible to support the conviction. Because the evidence supports the jury verdict, we affirm.
Between 5:00 and 6:00 a.m. on October 29, 1999, Jason Hanson was stopped at a traffic light in downtown Minneapolis when appellant Ronald Brewer jumped into his truck and pointed a knife at Hanson. Appellant asked Hanson if he had any money. Hanson said that he did not, but told appellant to take the truck or whatever else he wanted in exchange for letting him go. While appellant directed Hanson to drive him to a house in south Minneapolis, appellant ripped out the truck’s stereo with his knife. Once they arrived at the house, appellant directed Hanson to wait for him while he went to the door. Hanson could not hear appellant’s conversation, but believed that he was unsuccessfully trying to sell the stereo.
Appellant returned to the truck and forced Hanson into the passenger’s seat while he took the wheel. Since Hanson had his checkbook with him, appellant decided to try to convert Hanson’s checks into cash. The pair went to several establishments in south Minneapolis, including a check-cashing business, a gas station, and two banks. None of these establishments would honor appellant’s request, except for the gas station, which gave appellant a nominal amount of cash. During two of the stops, Hanson saw appellant try to rob other people, but both victims ran away.
Appellant finally stopped in an alley in south Minneapolis and caught the attention of two passers-by. He traded them Hanson’s stereo for two small white rocks, which Hanson assumed were drugs. Afterward, appellant went through Hanson’s belongings and took his watch, his ring, his cell phone, some CDs, and his duffel bag. He also took a check for $250 that Hanson had written out to “cash” and ran off. Hanson drove to a nearby hospital and called his wife. Because he was afraid of appellant, Hanson told his wife he did not want to report the incident, but she encouraged him to do so. Hanson also notified his bank about the incident.
On November 1, 1999, appellant went to Hanson’s bank and attempted to cash the check. On the payee line of the check, appellant had written his own name next to the word “cash.” During the transaction, the bank teller discovered the check had been reported stolen. The teller delayed appellant until the police arrived.
Appellant was charged with one count of aggravated robbery in the first degree and one count of kidnapping. Minn. Stat. § 609.245, subd. 1 (1998); Minn. Stat. § 609.25, subds. 1(2), 2(1) (1998).
At trial, the state called Hanson and two Minneapolis police officers, James Scheu, who arrested appellant, and John Vereb, who investigated the incident. The state also admitted Hanson’s checks into evidence. On cross-examination, Vereb admitted that he had been unable to verify the other robbery attempts, did not fingerprint the truck, and did little to try to locate any of the stolen items or the knife.
Hanson acknowledged that he could not remember the names of some of the businesses that appellant had brought him to, but he testified that he was unfamiliar with the area. He testified that he thought about escaping several times but was too scared and believed that “if [he] didn’t do anything stupid, [he would] come out unharmed.”
The jury found appellant not guilty of kidnapping, but guilty of aggravated robbery. Appellant was sentenced to 68 months, the presumptive sentence. Appellant challenges his conviction on the grounds that the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to support his conviction and the conviction should be reversed in the interests of justice.
D E C I S I O N
Reduced to its essence, appellant’s argument is based on his belief that Hanson’s testimony was inherently unbelievable and, therefore, the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction of aggravated robbery. Where there is a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence, appellate 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, was sufficient to permit the jurors to reach the verdict they did. State v. Webb, 440 N.W.2d 426, 430 (Minn. 1989). The appellate court “must assume the jury believed the state’s witnesses and disbelieved contrary evidence.” State v. Robinson, 539 N.W.2d 231, 238 (Minn. 1995). “[A] conviction may rest on the testimony of a single credible witness.” State v. Miles, 585 N.W.2d 368, 373 (Minn. 1998).
Our role as an appellate court is not to sit as some sort of “thirteenth juror” and reverse a verdict merely because a different result might have been reached. State v. Robinson, 536 N.W.2d 1, 2 (Minn. 1995). An appellate court is limited to reviewing a paper record of the evidence and testimony presented before the trial court, thus recognizing that the jury is in the best position to observe witnesses and evaluate their credibility. State v. Profit, 591 N.W.2d 451, 467 (Minn. 1999). Therefore, we will not disturb a verdict if the fact-finder could reasonably have found the defendant guilty of the charged offense, giving due regard to the presumption of innocence and to the prosecution’s burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. State v. Thomas, 590 N.W.2d 755, 757-58 (Minn. 1999).
Appellant argues that he was convicted based solely on Hanson’s testimony. Appellant characterizes Hanson’s story as unbelievable, noting there are some gaps and minor inconsistencies between his testimony and his interviews with the police. Further, appellant argues there is no evidence to corroborate Hanson’s testimony. Finally, appellant points to a survey of the jurors conducted by the public defender to cast doubt on whether the jury believed Hanson. Because of these alleged deficiencies, appellant asks this court to overturn the jury’s verdict in the “interest of justice.”
We are not in a position to gauge Hanson’s credibility and instead must defer that determination to the jury, which had an opportunity to evaluate his live testimony. See Tsudek v. Target Stores, Inc., 414 N.W.2d 466, 469 (Minn. App. 1987) (holding the jury has responsibility to weigh conflicting testimony and determine witness credibility), review denied (Minn. Dec. 13, 1987); see also State v. Ferguson, 581 N.W.2d 824, 836 (Minn. 1998) (noting that taking the stand gives the jury the opportunity to assess a witness’s credibility). Even if there was any doubt about Hanson’s credibility, we note that his testimony was corroborated in part by the fact that appellant was arrested while in possession of Hanson’s check.
We also note that some of the “inconsistencies” that appellant complains of are exaggerated. For example, when appellant cross-examined Scheu at trial, appellant noted that Hanson had failed to tell him about the multiple stops. But as the state noted on redirect, Scheu was not the investigating officer. He only contacted Hanson to verify that the check was stolen and did not question Hanson further. Even so, minor inconsistencies in the state’s case do not require reversal if the testimony taken as a whole is consistent and credible. Marshall v. State, 395 N.W.2d 362, 365-66 (Minn. App. 1986) (finding a victim’s uncorroborated testimony sufficient to support a conviction when the testimony “while not particularly detailed, was positive and relatively consistent”), review denied (Minn. Dec. 17, 1986).
We also conclude that there is no basis to question whether the jurors accepted Hanson’s version of events as accurate and truthful. Given the multiple counts against appellant, we cannot say that two days of deliberations—with the jury finding appellant not guilty of kidnapping on the first day and guilty of aggravated robbery on the second—was excessive or unreasonable. Appellant can only point to the juror surveys; at best, these surveys merely indicate that two of the jurors felt the state did not put on the best case possible. Moreover, none of the other jurors’ surveys are part of the record, giving us a very limited picture of what the jury believed. Cf. State v. Pederson, 614 N.W.2d 724, 731 (Minn. 2000) (noting that “a jury’s deliberations must remain inviolate and its verdict may not be reviewed or set aside on the basis of affidavits or testimony concerning that which transpired in the course of the jurors’ deliberations”).
Appellant’s reliance on State v. Langteau, 268 N.W.2d 76 (Minn. 1978), is misplaced. The Langteau court did not believe the victim’s story, because he claimed he was visiting a sick friend at a hospital when visiting hours had been over for quite a while. Id. at 77. Further, no evidence of the robbery was uncovered, the victim and the defendant were well acquainted, and there was no evidence to support the prosecutor’s argument that the defendant was under the influence of drugs. Id. Here, Hanson was following his normal routine. Even if other stolen items were not recovered, the stolen check was found in appellant’s possession. And Hanson did not know appellant, so there seems to be little reason to accuse him falsely. There is sufficient evidence in the record to support appellant’s conviction.
 An individual has committed aggravated robbery in the first degree if he or she
while committing a robbery, is armed with a dangerous weapon or any article used or fashioned in a manner to lead the victim to reasonably believe it to be a dangerous weapon, or inflicts bodily harm upon another * * * .
Minn. Stat. § 609.245, subd. 1 (1998).