This opinion will be unpublished and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
In the Matter of the Welfare of:
Filed August 20, 2002
Sibley County District Court
File No. J10050244
John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Charlann E. Winking, Assistant Public Defender, 2829 University Avenue SE, Suite 600, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant)
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 525 Park Street, Suite 500, St. Paul, MN 55103; and
David E. Schauer, Sibley County Attorney, Donald E. Lannoye, Assistant County Attorney, 307 N. Pleasant Avenue, Box H, Winthrop, MN 55396 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Harten, Presiding Judge, Willis, Judge, and Shumaker, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Appellant challenges her adjudication of delinquency for first-degree burglary and misdemeanor theft, arguing that the state’s key witness was an accomplice whose testimony was not sufficiently corroborated to support the adjudication. Because the witness’s testimony was corroborated, we affirm.
On July 8, 2000, A.A., a juvenile female, drove from Le Sueur to Henderson with appellant E.N.C., who is also a juvenile female, and A.R., a juvenile male. The group stopped at Wager’s Red Owl store where A.A. had a conversation with Deborah Marte, a friend of her mother’s. Marte told A.A. that she was leaving on a camping trip. After the conversation, A.A. dropped off E.N.C. and A.R. near Marte’s house and then left to spend some time with another friend whom she had seen at the Red Owl store. A.A. told E.N.C. and A.R. that she would pick them up later.
When A.A. returned, E.N.C. and A.R. had several items that were not in their possession when they were dropped off: A.A. saw E.N.C. with a ring and a hunting bow. A.A. testified that the pair told her that they had taken property from the “house by the corner”; A.A. opened her trunk and allowed E.N.C. and A.R. to load items into her car. When the trunk was later unloaded, A.A. learned that E.N.C. or A.R. also had placed two guns in her car. The following day, Marte reported a burglary, claiming that a 12-gauge shotgun, a .22-caliber rifle, wedding rings, and approximately $500 in cash were stolen. Marte testified later that her son was also missing a hunting bow.
On July 17, 2000, A.A. accompanied E.N.C. and another male friend, Christian Rodriguez, to a pawnshop in Shakopee. Rodriguez pawned rings that he received from E.N.C. The rings were later recovered by the police and identified by Marte as her wedding rings.
Based on a tip, the police interviewed A.A., and she described the events of July 8, 2000, and the trip to the pawnshop on July 17, 2000. As a result, the state petitioned to adjudicate E.N.C. delinquent on charges of first-degree burglary and felony theft. After a trial on August 28, 2001, the district court found that E.N.C. had committed first-degree burglary and misdemeanor theft and adjudicated her delinquent. This appeal follows.
D E C I S I O N
E.N.C. claims that the evidence was insufficient to support the district court’s adjudication of E.N.C. as delinquent because A.A., the state’s key witness, was an accomplice and her testimony was uncorroborated. Under Minn. Stat. § 634.04 (2000), accomplice testimony must be corroborated by independent evidence. See also State v. Armstrong, 257 Minn. 295, 307, 101 N.W.2d 398, 406 (1960). The statute provides:
A conviction cannot be had upon the testimony of an accomplice, unless it is corroborated by such other evidence as tends to convict the defendant of the commission of the offense, and the corroboration is not sufficient if it merely shows the commission of the offense or the circumstances thereof.
Minn. Stat. § 634.04; see also In re Welfare of D.M.K., 343 N.W.2d 863, 866 (Minn. App. 1984) (providing that Minn. Stat. § 634.04 also applies to juvenile cases). This rule exists because the testimony of an accomplice is likely to have been given in hopes of receiving clemency and is therefore suspect. State v. Jones, 347 N.W.2d 796, 800 (Minn. 1984).
E.N.C. claims that A.A. is an accomplice as a matter of law. The state contends that A.A. is not an accomplice because she did not actively participate in the crime with which E.N.C. was charged. A witness is an accomplice under Minn. Stat. § 634.04 if the witness could have been indicted for and convicted of the charged offense either as a principal or as an accessory before the fact. State v. Henderson, 620 N.W.2d 688, 701 (Minn. 2001); State v. Swyningan, 304 Minn. 552, 555, 229 N.W.2d 29, 32 (1975).
A person is criminally liable for a crime committed by another if the person intentionally aids, advises, hires, counsels, or conspires with or otherwise procures the other to commit the crime.
Minn. Stat. § 609.05, subd. 1 (2000); see State v. Hayes, 351 N.W.2d 654, 656 (Minn. App. 1984) (holding that women who were present during burglary and who actively assisted defendant in transferring stolen property were accomplices because their conduct showed “a high level of activity * * * in the form of conduct that encourages another to act” (quotation omitted)), review denied (Minn. Sept. 12, 1984). “If the state is able to prove some knowing role in the commission of the crime [charged], then the state has proven accomplice liability.” See State v. Flournoy, 535 N.W.2d 354, 359 (Minn. 1995) (quotation omitted). When facts are susceptible of different interpretations, whether a witness is an accomplice is a fact question for the jury. Id.
But the facts here are not susceptible of different interpretations. A.A. dropped E.N.C. and A.R. off near Marte’s house; when she returned, E.N.C. and A.R. had items that they did not have when she left them. A.A. admitted that she knew that E.N.C. and A.R. had “taken some stuff from a house,” that she opened her trunk and allowed them to load items into her car, and that she drove away with the stolen property in her car. “Presence, companionship and conduct before and after the offense are circumstances from which a person’s participation may be inferred.” Hayes, 351 N.W.2d at 656. A.A. was an accomplice.
E.N.C. asserts that A.A.’s testimony is not sufficiently corroborated to support the adjudication. Corroborating evidence must connect the defendant to the crime. State v. Scruggs, 421 N.W.2d 707, 713 (Minn. 1988). It is not necessary that it establish a prima facie case of the defendant’s guilt. Id. (citation omitted). Circumstantial evidence can corroborate an accomplice’s testimony. State v. McKenzie, 532 N.W.2d 210, 223 (Minn. 1995). Evidence is sufficient to corroborate if it confirms the truth of the accomplice’s testimony and points to the defendant’s guilt in some substantial degree. State v. Ford, 539 N.W.2d 214, 225 (Minn. 1995). In determining whether evidence is sufficient to corroborate an accomplice’s testimony, this court views the evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict. State v. Lundberg, 575 N.W.2d 589, 591 (Minn. App. 1998), review denied (Minn. May 20, 1998).
Here, A.A.’s testimony is corroborated. First, Rodriguez admitted to the police that he went to a pawnshop and that E.N.C. gave him the two stolen rings to sell. Second, E.N.C. first denied, but then later admitted to the police, that she went to the pawnshop with Rodriguez. Third, Rodriguez told the police that E.N.C. tried to give him the bow from the burglary. Finally, a former friend, J.S., testified that E.N.C. admitted during a conversation to robbing a house. Because the accomplice testimony is corroborated, the district court did not err by adjudicating E.N.C. delinquent.