This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2002).






State of Minnesota,





James Lee Gibbs,



Filed ­­­July 22, 2003


Harten, Judge


Hennepin County District Court

File No. 02030471


John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Lawrence Hammerling, Assistant State Public Defender, 2221 University Avenue Southeast, Suite 425, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant)


Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 525 Park Street, Suite 500, St. Paul, MN 55103; and


Amy Klobuchar, Hennepin County Attorney, Thomas A. Weist, Assistant County Attorney, C-2000 Government Center, 300 South Sixth Street, Minneapolis, MN 55487 (for respondent)


            Considered and decided by Minge, Presiding Judge, Harten, Judge, and Stoneburner, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N



Appellant challenges his convictions of kidnapping and first-degree aggravated robbery, arguing that the evidence was insufficient to support them.  Because we conclude that sufficient evidence supports the jury verdicts, we affirm.


On 26 April 2002, Dennis Morgan and Steven Spratt walked to a convenience store in Minneapolis.  Spratt entered the store, and Morgan waited outside.  As Morgan waited, a Ford Taurus driven by appellant James Gibbs drove up and stopped nearby.  Morgan heard someone say, “Psst.”  He saw a woman in the front passenger seat of the Taurus, and so he approached the car and asked if she was talking to him.  The woman said, “Yes.”  Morgan then noticed a man, later identified as James Allen, sitting in the back seat.  Allen was pointing a handgun at Morgan.  The woman told Morgan to “get in,” and she reached back to open the rear passenger door.  Appellant was in the driver’s seat.

As Morgan entered the car, Allen pointed the gun at Morgan’s face and told him to empty his pockets.  Appellant drove the car around the corner and parked near a church, about a block and a half from the convenience store.  Morgan testified that Allen rifled through his jacket pockets, that appellant told Allen to “check his shoes,” and that they took his beeper, phone, jacket, hat, gold chain, and $85 in cash.  Allen then told Morgan to get out, and appellant drove away after Morgan exited the car.  Morgan ran back to the convenience store and met Spratt, who had already called 911.

At trial, Spratt testified:

After I come back out of the store[,] * * * I saw a blue car approach [Morgan], and after I seen the car approach him, he turns around and gives me * * * a disturbing look like something is going wrong.  * * * After the car pulls off I followed behind it and gets a close look at the license plate.  After I get a good look at the license plate I run back to the store.


Spratt testified that he called 911, telling the operator that he had “seen something that didn’t look right” and that he thought his friend was “being robbed because * * * the look he gave [him] was kind of disturbing.”  Spratt told the operator the license number and make of the car.  Before Spratt finished the call, Morgan returned to the store and told the 911 operator that he had been robbed.

The police responded to the call; an officer later testified that when he arrived Morgan was shaking and appeared scared.  Morgan told the police what had been stolen and described the robbery and the three robbers.  When asked if Morgan described appellant’s participation, an officer testified:

Morgan told me that the driver had pulled away from the curb, taken a right on James Avenue North and went up approximately a block and a half and stopped in front of a church.  Once he stopped in front of the church, Morgan, the victim, told me that the driver [appellant] had turned around and communicated with Allen in back, saying check his * * * shoes because he might have money in his shoes * * * .


While Morgan was giving his statement to the police, other officers stopped a Ford Taurus matching the license plate and description provided by Morgan and Spratt.  The police searched the car and found a gun under the driver’s seat, $84 in cash on the front passenger floor, and Morgan’s jewelry, beeper, phone, jacket, and hat.  The jacket contained a check payable to Dennis Morgan.  The police drove Morgan to the scene, and he identified his property and the car’s occupants: appellant, Allen, and the woman.

Appellant was charged with first-degree aggravated robbery in violation of Minn. Stat. §§ 609.245, subd. 1, 609.11, and 609.05 (2000), and kidnapping in violation of Minn. Stat. §§ 609.25, subds. 1(2) and 2(1), 609.05, subd. 1 (2000).  At the jury trial, appellant testified that he stopped at the convenience store so Allen could purchase marijuana from Morgan and that, after Morgan entered the car, he turned up the music.  Appellant denied knowing either that Morgan had been robbed or that Allen had a gun.  The jury found appellant guilty as charged.  Appellant now argues that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions.


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).  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).  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 of the charged offense.  State v. Alton, 432 N.W.2d 754, 756 (Minn. 1988).

            A person is guilty of first-degree aggravated robbery if the person commits a robbery while armed with a dangerous weapon.  Minn. Stat. § 609.245, subd. 1 (2000); see also Minn. Stat. § 609.05, subd. 1 (2000) (person is criminally liable for crime committed by another if person intentionally aids, advises, counsels, or conspires with other to commit crime).  A person is guilty of kidnapping if the person “confines or removes from one place to another, any person without the person’s consent * * * [t]o facilitate commission of any felony * * * .”  Minn. Stat. § 609.25, subd. 1 (2000).

Ample evidence supports appellant’s convictions of first-degree aggravated robbery and kidnapping.  Morgan testified that he was ordered into appellant’s car at gunpoint, that Allen held a gun to his face and told him to empty his pockets, that appellant drove around the corner and instructed Allen to check his shoes, and that they took his property.  Strong evidence corroborated Morgan’s testimony: Spratt testified that Morgan had a “disturbing” look on his face as he entered appellant’s car, where the police later found a gun and Morgan’s property.  Appellant contends that the evidence is consistent with his version of the incident and that portions of Morgan’s testimony are inaccurate.  It is the province of the jury, however, to determine the weight and credibility afforded to each witness’s testimony.  State v. Bliss, 457 N.W.2d 385, 390 (Minn. 1990).  We conclude that the evidence is sufficient to support the jury’s verdict.