This opinion will be unpublished and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
State of Minnesota,
Richard Jerome Chaney,
Filed August 7, 2001
Chisago County District Court
File No. KX0080
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, Gail A. Feichtinger, Assistant Attorney General, 525 Park Street, Suite 500, St. Paul, MN 55103; and
Alfred S. Alliegro, Chisago County Attorney, Chisago County Courthouse, 313 North Main Street, Center City, MN 55012 (for respondent)
John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Lawrence W. Pry, Assistant Public Defender, 2829 University Avenue Southeast, Suite 600, Minneapolis, MN 55414-3230 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Stoneburner, Presiding Judge, Klaphake, Judge, and Foley, Judge.*
Appellant Richard Chaney challenges his second-degree assault conviction, arguing that the evidence is insufficient to support the jury’s verdict. Because the jury could reasonably conclude that appellant was not acting in defense of another when he hit Jerome Peltier with a tire iron, we affirm.
In considering a claim of insufficient evidence, this court’s review is limited to carefully reviewing the record to determine whether the evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the conviction, allowed the jury to reach the verdict that it did. State v. Webb, 440 N.W.2d 426, 430 (Minn. 1989). This 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) (citation omitted). We 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 beyond a reasonable doubt. State v. Alton, 432 N.W.2d 754, 756 (Minn. 1988).
The incident occurred at a convenience store. Some time before the incident, Peltier, the store clerk, asked Jason Chaney, appellant’s brother, to leave the store. Peltier testified that Chaney left angry, and later called the convenience store to threaten to return to assault Peltier. Within a short time, appellant and another man, Greg Viskoe, entered the store. A confrontation soon occurred, during which Viskoe sprayed David Youngberg, a friend of Peltier’s, in the face with mace and appellant hit Peltier in the back with a tire iron. Peltier claimed that appellant hit him as he was trying to break up the fight between Viskoe and Youngberg. Appellant claimed that he was defending Viskoe from Peltier and Youngberg.
“Resolution of conflicting testimony and determination as to the credibility of witnesses is exclusively within the province of the fact finder. State v. Obasi, 427 N.W.2d 736, 738 (Minn. App. 1988) (citation omitted). Because the jury is in the best position to evaluate the credibility of witnesses, it is free to decide that Peltier’s interpretation of the incident was correct and credible. See State v. Bliss, 457 N.W.2d 385, 390-91 (Minn. 1990) (conviction of defendant indicated jury believed testimony of state’s witness and disbelieved defendant’s statement to police); Moore, 438 N.W.2d at 108 (assuming jury believed witnesses’ testimony); State v. Triplett, 435 N.W.2d 38, 44-45 (Minn. 1989) (finding jury could believe witness’s testimony despite evidence she lied to police, used drugs, and forged checks).
Peltier testified that he had never been in a fight in his life, that he asked appellant’s brother to leave in order to prevent a fight, and that he was trying to break up the fight between Youngberg and Viskoe. Although appellant claimed that he and Viskoe innocently entered the store and that he was merely trying to defend Viskoe against Peltier’s attack, the jury was free to disbelieve appellant. Based on the evidence, the jury could reasonably conclude that appellant was not acting in defense of Viskoe and was guilty of second-degree assault.
* Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.