This opinion will be unpublished and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,
Cormell D. Williamson,
Redwood County District Court
File No. K399665
Mike Hatch, Minnesota Attorney General, Natalie E. Hudson, Assistant Minnesota Attorney General, 525 Park Street, Suite 500, St. Paul, MN 55103; and
Michelle A. Dietrich, Redwood County Attorney, Redwood County Courthouse, P.O. Box 130, Redwood Falls, MN 56283 (for respondent)
John M. Stuart, Minnesota State Public Defender, Mark F. Anderson, Assistant Minnesota State Public Defender, 2829 University Avenue SE, Suite 600, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Robert Schumacher, Presiding Judge, G. Barry Anderson, Judge and Daniel Foley, Judge.*
G. BARRY ANDERSON, Judge
Appellant, convicted of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct, and solicitation of a child to engage in sexual conduct, challenges the sufficiency of the evidence. Because we find the evidence sufficient to support the conviction, we affirm.
Appellant Cormell D. Williamson, a 23-year-old male, sexually assaulted A.D. and L.B., then ages 8 and 10, numerous times over a two-year period. The state charged appellant with three counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct and three counts of solicitation of a child to engage in sexual conduct, in violation of Minn. Stat. §§ 609.343, subd. 1(a) and 609.352, subd 2 (1998). The complaint was later amended to include one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.342, subd. 1(a) (1998).
The state, at the close of its case-in-chief, dismissed one count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct and two counts of solicitation. Appellant was convicted of the remainder of the charges. Appellant filed a motion for a new trial, which the district court denied. This appeal now follows.
Appellant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his convictions. When a challenge is raised to the sufficiency of the evidence, this court views the evidence in the “light most favorable to the verdict” and assumes that “the jury believed the state’s witnesses and disbelieved any evidence to the contrary.” State v. Miles, 585 N.W.2d 368, 372 (Minn. 1998) (citations omitted). This 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).
The state’s case rested largely on the direct testimony of appellant’s minor victims. The record reveals that the childrens’ descriptions of appellant’s sexual abuse were quite detailed. A.D.’s testimony was clear, unequivocal, and direct. “It is well established that a conviction can rest upon the testimony of a single credible witness.” State v. Bliss, 457 N.W.2d 385, 390 (Minn. 1990) (citations omitted).
Appellant next attacks the credibility of the victims. But “[t]he credibility of witnesses and the weight to be given their testimony are determinations to be made by the factfinder.” State v. Dickerson, 481 N.W.2d 840, 843 (Minn. 1992) (quotation omitted). Here, the jury likely believed the testimony of A.D., L.B., and Judith Weigman, a forensic child-interview specialist, and disbelieved any contradictory evidence; in fact, the reviewing court must make this assumption. State v. Johnson, 568 N.W.2d 426, 435 (Minn. 1997); see also State v. Brocks, 587 N.W.2d 37, 42 (Minn. 1998) (recognizing jury in best position to evaluate credibility of witnesses and weigh evidence, and therefore its verdict must be given due deference); State v. Boitnott, 443 N.W.2d 527, 531 (Minn. 1989) (reviewing court assumes jury believed witnesses for the state and disbelieved contrary evidence); State v. Newman, 408 N.W.2d 894, 900 (Minn. App. 1987) (exclusive function of the jury is to weigh credibility of witnesses and jury is entitled to believe a victim’s account of events), review denied (Minn. Aug. 19, 1987).
Finally, appellant contends that the victims’ testimony was uncorroborated by physical evidence. But Minnesota law specifically provides that corroboration of the victim’s testimony is not required in criminal sexual conduct cases. Minn. Stat. § 609.347, subd. 1 (2000); State v. Folley, 378 N.W.2d 21, 26 (Minn. App. 1985) (physical evidence not required to corroborate sexual assault victim’s testimony); see also State v. Wiskow, 501 N.W.2d 657, 660 (Minn. App. 1993) (“Corroboration of a child’s allegations of sexual abuse is necessary only when the evidence is otherwise insufficient to sustain the conviction”).
We find that the evidence was sufficient to support the jury’s verdicts.
In his pro se supplemental brief, appellant argues that various taped interviews with the child victims contained hearsay testimony and that appellant believed a judge in Renville County disallowed the tapes because they contained such hearsay testimony. But the record indicates that the Renville County judge made no ruling as to admissibility of the tapes. Furthermore, the consolidated trial occurred in Redwood County and the charges from Renville County were dismissed.
Although one of the tapes in question was admitted during trial in Redwood County, the district court directed the jury to disregard any hearsay references. This court will defer to a trial court’s evidentiary rulings, which will not be overturned absent a clear abuse of discretion. State v. Kelly, 435 N.W.2d 807, 813 (Minn. 1989). We find no such abuse of discretion here.
* Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.