This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2002).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
State of Minnesota,
Anthony Lee Brown,
Filed April 8, 2003
Cass County District Court
File No. K3-00-1201
John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Lawrence W. Pry, Assistant State Public Defender, 2221 University Avenue Southeast, Suite 425, Minneapolis, MN 55414; and
Earl E. Maus, Cass County Attorney, P.O. Box 3000, 300 Minnesota Avenue, Walker, MN 56484-3000 (for appellant)
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, Thomas R. Ragatz, Assistant Attorney General, 525 Park Street, Suite 500, St. Paul, MN 55103
Considered and decided by Peterson, Presiding Judge, Harten, Judge, and Poritsky, Judge.*
Appellant challenges the jury verdict finding him guilty of attempted first-degree controlled substance crime, arguing that there was insufficient evidence to prove either specific intent or a substantial step toward the manufacture of methamphetamine. Because we conclude that the evidence was sufficient for the jurors to reach their verdict, we affirm.
After receiving a report that appellant Anthony Brown had methamphetamine at his residence, the police went there to investigate. Appellant consented to a search of his house and shed. The police found several products commonly used in the manufacture of methamphetamine, including numerous empty Sudafed boxes, a five-gallon container of toluene, a one-gallon container of muriatic acid, Red Devil lye, and vinyl tubing. The police also found glassware and coffee filters containing substances that tested positive for pseudoephedrine, an essential ingredient in the manufacture of methamphetamine. A special agent with the regional drug task force testified at trial that the residue in the coffee filters was a “substance that would be consistent with soaking the Sudafed in toluene or another solvent to retrieve the pseudoephedrine.”
Appellant was arrested and charged with attempted controlled substance crime in the first degree in violation of Minn. Stat. § 152.021, subd. 2a (2000). The jury found appellant guilty. Appellant challenges his conviction, arguing that there was insufficient evidence to prove that he intended to manufacture or that he took a substantial step toward manufacturing methamphetamine.
D E C I S I O N
In considering a claim of insufficient evidence, our review is limited to a painstaking analysis of the record to determine whether the evidence, when viewed in the light most favorable to the conviction, is sufficient to allow the jurors to reach their verdict. State v. Webb, 440 N.W.2d 426, 430 (Minn. 1989). The reviewing 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). “While it warrants stricter scrutiny, circumstantial evidence is entitled to the same weight as direct evidence.” State v. Bauer, 598 N.W.2d 352, 370 (Minn. 1999) (citation omitted). The jury is in the best position to evaluate circumstantial evidence, and its verdict is entitled to due deference. Webb, 440 N.W.2d at 430.
A criminal attempt occurs when a person, with intent to commit a crime, performs an act that is a substantial step toward, and more than preparation for, the commission of a crime. Minn. Stat. § 609.17, subd. 1 (2000). “[A] person is guilty of controlled substance crime in the first degree if the person manufactures any amount of methamphetamine.” Minn. Stat. § 152.021, subd. 2a (2000).
Appellant argues that there was insufficient evidence to prove that he intended to manufacture methamphetamine because there was no direct evidence of his intent and no evidence that he completed the manufacturing process. We disagree.
“Intent may be proved by circumstantial evidence including the defendant’s conduct, * * * [and] may be inferred from events occurring before and after the crime.” Davis v. State, 595 N.W.2d 520, 525-26 (Minn. 1999) (citations omitted). Appellant possessed many of the chemicals and equipment commonly used in the manufacture of methamphetamine, and he admits in his brief that he played a “knowing role” in the process of extracting pseudoephedrine. Appellant also told the police that he had been curious about making the methamphetamine and that he had asked a friend to teach him on several occasions. Finally, when asked, “Did [your friend] explain to you that you were gonna be making methamphetamine,” appellant replied, “[Y]eah, I knew what he was intending on doing, * * * I knew what I was doing.” We conclude that there is sufficient evidence to infer that appellant intended to manufacture methamphetamine.
Appellant argues that purchasing medication containing pseudoephedrine and extracting the pseudoephedrine was nothing more than “mere preparation” to manufacture methamphetamine. But appellant’s actions were more than mere preparation. At trial, an agent from the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) testified that the manufacture of methamphetamine involved three basic steps: extracting pseudoephedrine, mixing it with lithium metal and anhydrous ammonia, and filtering the mixture. We 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). The police found pseudoephedrine in coffee filters at appellant’s house, indicating that he had completed or was close to completing the first step of manufacturing. Moreover, appellant possessed many of the chemicals and equipment necessary for later steps in the manufacturing process—the BCA agent testified that muriatic acid and vinyl tubing are used to convert methamphetamine to a crystal form. We conclude that the evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the conviction, is sufficient to prove that appellant took a substantial step toward the manufacture of methamphetamine.
* Retired judge of the district court, serving as judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.