This opinion will be unpublished and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,
Mark Allen Erlandson,
Anoka County District Court
File No. K2017414
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 525 Park Street, Suite 500, St. Paul, MN 55103; and
Thomas M. Fitzpatrick, East Bethel Prosecuting Attorney, 2140 Fourth Avenue North, Anoka, MN 55303 (for respondent)
John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Lawrence W. Pry, Assistant Public Defender, 2221 University Avenue Southeast, Suite 425, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Schumacher, Presiding Judge, Toussaint, Chief Judge, and Kalitowski, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Appellant Mark Allen Erlandson challenges his convictions of first-degree driving while intoxicated and driving after cancellation, arguing that the evidence presented at the jury trial was insufficient to prove he was driving, operating, or in physical control of the motor vehicle. We affirm.
D E C I S I O N
In considering a claim of insufficient evidence, this court’s 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 the verdict that they did. State v. Webb, 440 N.W.2d 426, 430 (Minn. 1989). Moreover, the reviewing court 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). Thus, 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 that the defendant was guilty of the charged offense. State v. Alton, 432 N.W.2d 754, 756 (Minn. 1988).
Appellant argues that the state failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he, and not his wife, was driving, operating, or otherwise in physical control of the car and therefore, he could not be convicted of first-degree driving while impaired in violation of Minn. Stat. §§ 169A.20, subd. a(5), and 169A. 25 (2000), and driving after cancellation in violation of Minn. Stat. § 171.24, subd. 5. We disagree because we conclude that there was sufficient evidence to allow the jury to reach the guilty verdicts.
Both Michael and Neal Mau testified that appellant told them he was driving the motor vehicle at the time of the accident. Moreover, when appellant waved down Michael Mau, he was wet, dirty, covered in pondweeds, and within one mile of the accident scene approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour after it occurred, indicating that he was likely avoiding authorities by running through marshes and ditches filled with water and weeds.
In addition, when the eyewitness looked out of his window immediately after the car came to a stop, he saw appellant’s wife standing next to the open passenger door of the car. Her location next to the passenger door suggests that she was the passenger and someone else was the driver. See State v. Bauer, 598 N.W.2d 352, 370 (Minn. 1999) (circumstantial evidence entitled to same weight as direct evidence).
Appellant testified that he was not driving the car that night and the Maus were not truthful because there was “bad blood” between them and appellant. But we must assume the jury believed the state’s witnesses and disbelieved any evidence to the contrary. Moore, 438 N.W.2d at 108. Moreover, it is the jury’s exclusive function to measure the credibility of witnesses. State v. Merrill, 274 N.W.2d 99, 111 (Minn. 1978). Here, the jury had the opportunity to weigh the credibility of Michael and Neal Mau versus the credibility of appellant. The jury concluded the Maus’ testimony was more credible than appellant’s testimony, and we will defer to their determination. Thus, we conclude there was sufficient evidence to support appellant’s convictions.