This opinion will be unpublished and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
Christopher Edward Karls,
Filed August 5, 2003
Robert H. Schumacher, Judge
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 525 Park Street, Suite 500, St. Paul, MN 55103; and
Janelle P. Kendall, Stearns County Attorney, Sam D. Young, Assistant County Attorney, 448 Administration Center, 705 Courthouse Square, St. Cloud, MN 56303-4701 (for respondent)
John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Theodora K. Gaitas, Assistant Public Defender, 2221 University Avenue Southeast, Suite 425, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Kalitowski, Presiding Judge, Schumacher, Judge, and Huspeni, Judge.*
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
ROBERT H. SCHUMACHER, Judge
Appellant Christopher Edward Karls challenges the sentence imposed for his first-degree burglary conviction. Karls argues that the district court abused its discretion in granting the state's motion to order him to register as a predatory offender because (1) the district court made no finding that the burglaries had criminal sexual conduct as their goal, and (2) there was no evidence to support such a finding. We affirm.
On December 13, 2001, and sometime between January 20 and 23, 2002, 18-year-old Karls broke into the houses of two St. Cloud Technical High School dance team members. Karls stole videos of the dance team rehearsals, photographs of the team members, and girls' underwear. He also cut two holes in the sheet covering one of the girls' windows. The break-ins occurred during the day, when no one was at home.
On February 19, 2002, Karls broke into the house of another dance team member. The girl was away for the night, but her younger sister and mother were home. He entered the bedroom where both the sister and mother were sleeping. According to Karls, when the sister woke up, he dropped to the floor, brushing the girl's foot, which was hanging over the bed, with his jacket. Afterwards, Karls crawled out of the room and rummaged through the rest of the house. The sister saw Karls return to the bedroom. When he noticed that she was awake, he ran. At this point, the mother woke up. When she noticed there was an intruder in the house, she locked the bedroom door and called the police.
Shortly thereafter, the police stopped Karls's vehicle a short distance from the house. During the arrest, the police noticed that his pants were undone. Karls explained that his top button was missing. In the back seat of Karls's vehicle, the police found a video camera stolen during the burglary. At the house, the victims discovered that Karls had gone through the dance team member's drawers, which contained a booklet of photographs of dance team members.
Karls claims he was under the influence of methamphetamine when he entered all three houses. He was eventually charged with one count of first-degree burglary in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.582, subd. 1(a) (2000), and two counts of second-degree burglary in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.582, subd. 2(a) (2000).
Karls underwent sex offender treatment in March 2002. According to an adult sex offender assessment written by psychologist Frank F. Weber, M.S., Karls stated he thought the girls whose houses he burglarized were attractive and admitted that he stole underwear, pictures, videos of the dance team rehearsals, cash, jewelry, and a video camera.
Karls acknowledges that the intensity of his break-ins has increased up to the point of his incarceration. [Karls] went from initially spending ten minutes in a home during break-ins to spending over an hour in the last home. While his break-ins started during the day, his last break-in occurred during the night.
Weber also stated that in light of the fact that Karls had been rummaging through drawers looking for women's underwear, which is a "very sexually-oriented crime," he did not believe that it was a coincidence that Karls's pants were undone at the time he was pulled over by the police. He further stated that Karls's offenses were sexually oriented and emphasized that Karls should have no contact with females under the age of 18, including his family.
Karls entered into a plea agreement and on April 19, 2002, pleaded guilty to all charges. Under the terms of the plea agreement, Karls agreed not to oppose the state's motion to require him to register as a predatory offender. But before sentencing, Karls retained a new attorney and moved to withdraw his guilty plea, arguing that the plea had not been knowing, voluntary, or intelligent. After conducting a hearing by telephone on June 17, 2002, the court denied the motion.
At the sentencing hearing, the court considered the assessment written by Weber. Although Karls had agreed not to object to the state's request that he register as a predatory offender, the district court allowed Karls's attorney to argue the issue. Karls received a 66-month stay of execution of sentence and up to 20 years of probation for the first-degree burglary offense and concurrent stays of imposition and up to 10 years of probation for the second-degree burglary offenses. As a condition of probation, the court ordered Karls to serve 222 days in jail, to complete chemical dependency and sex offender treatment, and to register as a predatory offender.
In postconviction proceedings, the petitioner bears the burden of proving, by a fair preponderance of the evidence, facts that warrant relief. Minn. Stat. § 590.04, subd. 3 (2002). Appellate courts "review a postconviction court's findings to determine whether there is sufficient evidentiary support in the record." Dukes v. State, 621 N.W.2d 246, 251 (Minn. 2001) (citation omitted). Appellate courts "afford great deference to a district court's findings of fact and will not reverse the findings unless they are clearly erroneous." Id. (citation omitted). "The decisions of a postconviction court will not be disturbed unless the court abused its discretion." Id. (citation omitted). The court's sentencing decision will not be disturbed absent a clear abuse of discretion. State v. Givens, 544 N.W.2d 774, 776 (Minn. 1996).
Karls challenges the district court's sentence ordering him to register as a predatory offender under Minn. Stat. § 243.166, subd. 1(a)(3) (2000). Under Minnesota law, a person is required to register as a predatory offender if
the person was convicted of a predatory crime as defined in section 609.108, and * * * the court found on its own motion or that of the prosecutor that the crime was part of a predatory pattern of behavior that had criminal sexual conduct as its goal.
Minn. Stat. § 243.166, subd. 1(a)(3). Because Karls was convicted of first-degree burglary under Minn. Stat. § 609.582, subd. 1 (2000), one of the statutes listed in section 609.108, there is no dispute Karls committed a predatory crime. See Minn. Stat. § 609.108, subd. 3 (2000) (listing section 609.582, subdivision 1—first-degree burglary—as a predatory crime). Karls argues, however, that because the district court never made a finding that his burglaries were "part of a predatory pattern of behavior that had criminal sexual conduct as its goal" and the record is "devoid" of facts that support such a finding, the court abused its discretion in ordering him to register as a predatory offender.
We disagree. At the sentencing hearing, the court found that Karls's crimes were "sexually motivated." Moreover, in the court's memorandum supporting the decision to deny Karls's motion to withdraw his guilty plea, the court further explained the decision ordering Karls to register as a predatory offender:
Minn. Stat. § 243.166 permits the Court, on its own motion, to order registration as a predatory offender. Based the facts in this case, the Court found the crimes were a predatory pattern of behavior that had criminal sexual conduct as its goal.
(Emphasis added.) In light of these findings, we see no abuse of discretion.
Karls acknowledges that the burglaries had a sexual component and were sexually oriented, but argues that because the evidence in the record does not show that he committed the burglaries with intent to commit "criminal sexual conduct," as defined under Minnesota law, he cannot be ordered to register as a predatory offender under Minn. Stat. § 243.166, subd. 1(a)(3). See Minn. Stat. §§ 609.342-609.3451 (2000) (describing different degrees of criminal sexual conduct). The state argues that to read the phrase "as its goal" to mean "intent" would make superfluous subdivision 1(a)(1)(iii), which already requires registration for those who are convicted of attempted criminal sexual conduct.
In order for this court to conclude that Karls's interperation of subdivision 1(a)(1)(iii) makes another provision of the statute superfluous, this court would have to conduct a statutory interpretation of Minn. Stat. § 243.166, subd. 1(a)(3). There is no room for construction of a statute unless the language of the statute is ambiguous. American Family Ins. Group v. Schroedl, 616 N.W.2d 273, 277 (Minn. 2000). A statute is ambiguous where the language is subject to more than one reasonable interpretation. Id. But by claiming that "as its goal" means "intent," Karls is not arguing that the statute has another reasonable interpretation, but rather, is arguing that "goal" can only be interpreted as requiring "intent." We agree. The word "goal" is not ambiguous—it means "intent." See Roget's II The New Thesaurus 446 (3rd ed. 1995) (defining "goal" as "what one intends to do or achieve"); see also Schroedl, 616 N.W.2d at 277 (stating that words and phrases are construed "according to their plain and ordinary meaning"). Thus, in order for the district court to order Karls to register as a predatory offender under Minn. Stat. § 243.166, subd. 1(a)(3), the evidence in the record must show that Karls participated in a predatory pattern of behavior with intent to commit "criminal sexual conduct."
In order to commit "criminal sexual conduct," as that term is used in the criminal code, a person must engage in sexual contact or penetration or, for fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct, masturbation or lewd exhibition of the genitals in the presence of a minor under the age of 16. Minn. Stat. § 603.342-.3451. Although Karls may not have intended to accomplish sexual contact or penetration during any of his night-time burglaries, he was engaged in an escalating pattern of behavior going far beyond window-peeping or other less-intrusive sexually-motivated crimes. During the third burglary, Karls was apparently close to committing fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct.
The evidence in the record shows that Karls was sexually attracted to each of the girls whose homes he burglarized. He told Weber that he thought they were "hot." While in their homes, he stole, among other things, women's underwear and videos from the dance team performances. He also cut two holes in one of the girl's bedroom curtains. When Karls was pulled over after his last burglary, the police found his pants unzipped. In Weber's opinion, these were sexually oriented crimes.
In light of these facts and the broad deference afforded to the district court's sentencing findings, we conclude that the fair preponderance of the evidence supports the court's finding that Karls's burglaries were part of a predatory pattern of behavior that had criminal sexual conduct as its goal. The district court did not clearly abuse its discretion when it ordered Karls to register as a predatory offender.
* Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.