may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2002).
IN COURT OF APPEALS
State of Minnesota,
Idirss Osman Ahmed,
Gordon W. Shumaker, Judge
Hennepin County District Court
File No. 01041786
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 525 Park Street, Suite 500, St. Paul, MN 55103-2106; and
Amy J. Klobuchar, Hennepin County Attorney, Michael K. Walz, Assistant Hennepin County Attorney, C-2000 Government Center, Minneapolis, MN 55487 (for respondent)
John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Lawrence W. Pry, Assistant State Public Defender, Suite 600, 2829 University Avenue S.E., Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Lansing, Presiding Judge, Shumaker, Judge, and Minge, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
GORDON W. SHUMAKER, Judge
Appellant Idirss Osman Ahmed challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to support his convictions of attempted first-degree criminal sexual conduct and of first-degree burglary, arguing that the victim failed to convincingly identify him as her attacker and that her testimony was inconsistent and contradictory. Because the evidence at trial was sufficient to sustain the verdicts beyond a reasonable doubt, Ahmed’s convictions are affirmed.
The state charged Ahmed with various counts of burglary, attempted criminal sexual conduct, assault, and terroristic threats, alleging that he committed these crimes against S.E. Ahmed pleaded not guilty, and both he and S.E. testified at the ensuing jury trial.
S.E. testified that she is an immigrant from Kenya and that she met Ahmed in Minneapolis while waiting for her husband to complete his immigration process in Kenya. She stated that she had known Ahmed only for a short time and that he had visited her apartment three times. She indicated that she let him into the apartment the first time, but after that she refused to allow him in because he wanted to date her and she was not interested.
S.E. testified that she was in her apartment and was expecting a visit from her nephew, M.F., on the evening of May 12, 2001. When she heard the security buzzer, she picked up the intercom telephone and asked, “Are you Mohamud?” The person replied, “Yes,” and S.E. pressed the button to unlock the entry door.
When S.E. opened her apartment door for her nephew, she realized that she had allowed Ahmed into the building. He grabbed her hand, and she told him to leave. Instead, he entered her apartment, grabbed her shirt, punched her, tore her shirt and pulled it off. Then he pulled his pants down and said that he was going to make love to her. After a struggle, S.E. was able to run out of the apartment and call 911.
Ahmed did not dispute S.E.’s description of the occurrence on May 12, but he testified that he was not the person who committed the crimes. He testified that he was at a Minneapolis nightclub at the time. He said that he had known S.E. for several months and had been seeing her regularly, until she saw him with another woman and became furiously jealous.
The jury found Ahmed guilty of burglary, attempted criminal sexual conduct, and terroristic threats. On appeal, Ahmed challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to support the convictions. In his brief, Ahmed refers initially and generally to all convictions. However in his argument, Ahmed argues only insufficiency of the evidence for the attempted first-degree criminal sexual conduct and first-degree burglary convictions. We decline to reach issues in absence of adequate briefing. State, Dep’t. of Labor & Indus. v. Wintz Parcel Drivers, Inc. 558 N.W.2d 480, 480 (Minn. 1997). The only issues reviewed are Ahmed’s challenges to his attempted first-degree criminal sexual conduct and first-degree burglary convictions.
D E C I S I O N
“* * * [T]he standard for overturning a conviction for insufficiency of the evidence is a high one * * * .” State v. Huss, 506 N.W.2d 290, 292 (Minn. 1993). In considering an insufficiency-of-evidence claim,
our review is * * * limited to a painstaking analysis of the record to determine whether the evidence, when viewed in a light most favorable to the conviction, was sufficient to permit the jurors to reach the verdict which they did.
State v. Webb, 440 N.W.2d 426, 430 (Minn. 1989). We must assume that “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) (citing State v. Wahlberg, 296 N.W.2d 408, 411 (Minn. 1980)).
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 that a defendant was proven guilty of the offense charged.
State v. Alton, 432 N.W.2d 754, 756 (Minn. 1988) (citing State v. McCullum, 289 N.W.2d 89 (Minn. 1979)). The dispositive consideration “is not whether reasonable doubt existed, but whether there was sufficient evidence for a jury to reasonably conclude that no reasonable doubt existed.” State v. Walen, 563 N.W.2d 742, 750 (Minn. 1997).
Ahmed argues that S.E. falsely accused him of committing the crimes for which he was convicted and that the evidence was insufficient to prove that he was the assailant. In support of his argument, Ahmed points to inconsistencies and contradictions in S.E.’s testimony. He notes that after S.E. ran from her apartment on May 12, she first called her cousin and said only that “someone” had beaten her. She initially told the 911 operator that she did not know the man who had beaten her. But she later told the operator that the man was a Somali who lived in her neighborhood, that she knew him, and that she could describe him. Also, S.E. told investigating officers that she was waiting for her girlfriend, not her nephew, when Ahmed arrived at her apartment. When the police asked if she knew her assailant, she gave the police a slip of paper with Ahmed’s name and telephone number on it. Ahmed also argues that there was no corroboration of S.E.’s testimony and that the police found no blood on Ahmed’s clothing and no cuts or marks on his hands, although S.E. was cut and bleeding profusely.
“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). The record supports S.E.’s testimony that Ahmed inflicted personal injury on her and that he attempted sexual penetration through the use of force and coercion. We leave credibility determinations to the fact-finders because they are “in a superior position to assess the credibility of witnesses.” In re Welfare of L.A.F., 554 N.W.2d 393, 396 (Minn. 1996) (citation omitted). “Even inconsistencies in the state’s case will not require a reversal of the jury verdict.” State v. Pieschke, 295 N.W.2d 580, 584 (Minn. 1980) (citation omitted). The state need not present evidence that excludes all possibility that another person committed the crime; it need only make such other theories appear unreasonable. See State v. Anderson, 379 N.W.2d 70, 78 (Minn. 1985).
The discrepancies in S.E.’s testimony pertained to the identity of the person she was expecting to visit her apartment on May 12 and the identity of her assailant. The former is a minor inconsistency; the latter is more significant. But the discrepancies raise an issue of S.E.’s credibility and that is for the jury to resolve.
The jury heard testimony that the 911 operator and the translator had difficulty understanding S.E. The jury also heard testimony that S.E. was injured, bleeding, hysterical, and still crying when the police arrived. These facts reasonably support a conclusion that either S.E.’s condition compromised her clarity or that the recipients of her statements simply misunderstood her. Furthermore, the only discrepancy as to her assailant’s identity occurred during her 911 conversation when she allegedly told the operator that she was beaten by a man that she did not know. Later in that same conversation, she stated that she knew the man and knew what he looked like. While S.E. was still talking to the 911 operator, the police arrived, and she specifically identified her attacker as “Idirss” and gave the telephone number of Ahmed’s apartment. Overall, there was only one inconsistency in S.E.’s identification of her assailant, and the jury heard evidence that provided a plausible explanation for that discrepancy. The evidence was sufficient to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that Ahmed committed attempted first-degree criminal sexual conduct and first-degree burglary.