This opinion will be unpublished and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 October 15, 2002
Washington County District Court
File No. J7-02-50236
John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Charlann E. Winking, Assistant State Public Defender, 2829 University Avenue Southeast, Suite 600, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for child)
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 525 Park Street, Suite 500, St. Paul, MN 55103; and
Douglas H. Johnson, Washington County Attorney, Mary M. Pieper, Assistant County Attorney, Washington County Government Center, 14949-62nd Street North, P.O. Box 6, Stillwater, MN 55082-0006 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Harten, Presiding Judge, Lansing, Judge, and Randall, Judge.
Appellant, a juvenile, challenges his adjudication of delinquency for criminal damage to property in the first degree, arguing that there was insufficient evidence to corroborate the testimony of an accomplice. Because we conclude that the evidence was sufficient to support the adjudication, we affirm.
At approximately 11:00 p.m. on 2 February 2002, Mark Kaufenberg, Michael Rude, Joel Hughes, and Richard Henry were working in a repair garage when they heard an unusual noise. They ran outside and saw two youths running from a row of parked cars on the back lot of the garage.
At trial, Hughes testified that one youth, later identified as 16-year-old J.H., wore a brown jacket with jeans and that the other, later identified as 16-year-old appellant S.R.T., wore a darker jacket and a red hat and carried something that looked like “a stick or a pipe.” Hughes briefly pursued the youths, but returned to the garage and noticed that the glass windows on some parked cars had been broken.
Henry and Rude ran after the youths, and Kaufenberg searched for them from his truck. Henry caught J.H. beside a nearby trailer holding an air rifle. He testified that appellant “took off out from underneath the trailer [and] ran between a fence and a house.” Rude yelled to Kaufenberg that appellant was “heading towards the apartments.”
From his truck, Kaufenberg saw appellant run into a nearby apartment building. Kaufenberg parked, followed the youth into the building, and shouted, “I know where you live, and I’ll be back.” Later, after the police arrived at the scene, Kaufenberg returned to the apartment building and entered it with the police. He identified appellant, sitting on a chair, wearing boxer shorts and covered in a blanket, as the youth he had chased into the apartment building.
At trial, Kaufenberg again identified appellant as one of the two youths he saw on the night in question. He testified that he had seen “the side of [appellant’s] face” as he ran into the apartment building. When asked why he was “sure” that appellant was the same person as the youth he had chased, Kaufenberg testified, “Because of the blond hair, and I seen him [sic] running toward that end of the apartment building.”
Henry and Rude had held J.H. until the police arrived. J.H. told them that appellant lived in an apartment building. When questioned by the police later that night, J.H. identified appellant as the second suspect and said that appellant lived in a nearby apartment. J.H. also accompanied the police to appellant’s apartment.
At trial, J.H. testified that: (1) appellant wore a “dark color” stocking hat and “busted the windows out” of some vehicles parked near the repair garage using a BB gun; (2) he and appellant ran when some men exited the garage and chased them; (3) he picked up the gun after appellant threw it; (4) the men caught him next to a trailer, and (5) appellant momentarily hid under the trailer, then ran toward his apartment, cutting between a house and a fence.
The district court found that appellant had committed criminal damage to property in the first degree in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.595, subd 1(3) (2000), and adjudicated him delinquent. Appellant challenges this adjudication, arguing that there was insufficient evidence to corroborate J.H.’s testimony.
D E C I S I O N
On appeal from a determination that the elements of a delinquency charge have been proved beyond a reasonable doubt, “an appellate court is limited to ascertaining whether, given the facts and legitimate inferences, a factfinder could reasonably make that determination.” In re Welfare of S.M.J., 556 N.W.2d 4, 6 (Minn. App. 1996) (citing State v. Merrill, 274 N.W.2d 99, 111 (Minn. 1978)). We must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the determination. Id. Our analysis must assume that the factfinder believed the state’s witnesses and rejected contrary evidence. In re Welfare of S.A.M., 570 N.W.2d 162, 167 (Minn. App. 1997).
The testimony of an accomplice must be corroborated by additional evidence tending to convict appellant of the offense. Minn. Stat. § 634.04 (2000). “Corroborating evidence is sufficient to convict if it reinforces the truth of the accomplice’s testimony and points to the defendant’s guilt in some substantial degree.” State v. Bowles, 530 N.W.2d 521, 532 (Minn. 1995) (citation omitted).
Here, there was ample evidence to reinforce the truth of J.H.’s testimony. J.H. testified that appellant lived in an apartment building near the crime scene and escaped capture by running toward his apartment, dashing between a house and a fence. Three witnesses supported this testimony: Henry testified that appellant “ran between a fence and a house” as he escaped; Rude testified that he saw appellant “heading towards the apartments,” and Kaufenberg testified that he chased appellant into the apartment building and later identified him as the person he chased.
J.H. testified that appellant wore a “dark color” hat and broke the windows with a gun. He also testified that he picked up the gun after appellant threw it. Again, witnesses supported this testimony. Hughes testified that appellant wore a red hat and held what looked like a stick or a pipe, and Henry testified that he caught J.H. holding a gun.
Corroborating evidence may include factors such as appellant’s association with those involved in the crime, opportunity to commit the crime, and proximity to the crime scene. State v. Adams, 295 N.W.2d 527, 533 (Minn. 1980). It is undisputed that appellant was associated with J.H.; they were friends and were together at appellant’s apartment shortly before the incident. Moreover, appellant had the opportunity to commit the crime; his mother testified that he could have left the apartment without her knowledge. Finally, appellant was in close proximity to the crime scene; his apartment was near the garage.
When viewed in a light most favorable to appellant’s adjudication, we conclude that the district court correctly found that there was sufficient evidence to corroborate J.H.’s testimony.