This opinion will be unpublished and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,
Filed September 16, 2003
St. Louis County District Court
File No. K102600141
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, Thomas R. Ragatz, Julie A. Leppink, Assistant Attorneys General, 1800 NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55103; and
Alan Mitchell, St. Louis County Attorney, St. Louis County Courthouse, 100 North Fifth Avenue West, Duluth, MN 55802 (for respondent)
John M. Stuart, Minnesota Public Defender, Michael F. Cromett, Assistant Public Defender, Suite 425, 2221 University Avenue Southeast, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Willis, Presiding Judge, Shumaker, Judge, and Stoneburner, Judge.
Alexander Taylor argues that there is insufficient evidence in the record to support his conviction of assault with a dangerous weapon because the jury acquitted him of the charge of felon in possession of a firearm and one juror expressed post-verdict uncertainty about what weapon was used in the assault. Because the evidence supports the conviction and neither inconsistent verdicts nor a juror’s post-verdict statement are a basis for a new trial, we affirm.
At trial on two counts of assault in the second degree (assault with a dangerous weapon), one count of possession of a firearm by a felon, and one count of terroristic threats, appellant Alexander Taylor testified that he did not possess a gun and did not strike the victim. Taylor asserted that a person named “Darryl” was present and struck the victim. The victim, her sister, and her sister’s boyfriend were present at the time of the incident. Each testified that Darryl was not present, Taylor had a handgun, and Taylor hit the victim. The victim and her sister testified that Taylor hit the victim with the gun. The boyfriend did not see which hand Taylor used to hit the victim but saw the gun and put the gun in a closet after the incident, at Taylor’s request. The victim had significant lacerations above her right eye and on the right side of her nose. She told emergency room personnel that she had been hit in the head with a gun by her former boyfriend. Taylor was left alone at the scene when the victim was taken to the hospital. The gun was never found.
The jury found Taylor guilty of two counts of assault in the second degree, not guilty of felon in possession of a firearm, and not guilty of terroristic threats. During the district court’s routine debriefing of the jury, one juror was overheard by the judge to comment, “We’re not certain it was a gun, but he must have had some kind of a weapon.” Taylor moved for acquittal or a new trial. The motions were denied and this appeal followed.
In considering a claim of insufficient evidence, this court’s review is limited to a careful examination of the record to determine whether the evidence, when viewed in the light most favorable to the conviction, was sufficient to allow the jurors to reach the verdict that they did. State v. Webb, 440 N.W.2d 426, 430 (Minn. 1989). It is the exclusive role of the jury to determine the weight and credibility of witness testimony. State v. Folkers, 581 N.W.2d 321, 327 (Minn. 1998). In considering an appeal based on insufficiency of the evidence, this court 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). This 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 have reasonably concluded that the defendant was guilty of the charged offense. State v. Alton, 432 N.W.2d 754, 756 (Minn. 1988). In this case, there was direct and circumstantial evidence that Taylor struck the victim with the gun. There is sufficient evidence in the record to support his conviction.
A juror may not testify as to any matter arising from the course of deliberation. Minn. R. Evid. 606(b). The juror’s statement in this case relates to the internal deliberations of the jury and did not allege any extraneous influence on the jury. The statement, therefore, is not admissible and cannot be used as the basis for granting a new trial. Id.
Taylor argues that the juror’s statement may reflect that the judge gave incomplete instructions defining “dangerous weapon” and that the jury failed to follow the instructions given. On appeal, it is presumed that the jurors followed the judge’s instructions. State v. Miller, 573 N.W.2d 661, 675 (Minn. 1998). The judge instructed the jury that one element of second-degree assault is use of a dangerous weapon, and a firearm, loaded or unloaded, is a dangerous weapon. Taylor did not object to the instruction. The verdict is consistent with the instruction and is supported by the evidence. There is no merit to Taylor’s argument that the juror’s comment demonstrated inadequate jury instructions.
Taylor also argues that because he was acquitted of felon in possession of a firearm, the verdicts are logically inconsistent and he is entitled to a new trial. We disagree.
[A] defendant who is found guilty of one count of a two count indictment or complaint is not entitled to a new trial or a dismissal simply because the jury found him not guilty of the other count, even if the guilty and not guilty verdicts may be said to be logically inconsistent.
State v. Juelfs, 270 N.W.2d 873, 873-74 (Minn. 1978). Logical inconsistency of verdicts does not affect the sufficiency of the evidence to convict Taylor of second-degree assault. See State v. Thomas, 467 N.W.2d 324, 327 (Minn. App. 1991) (stating that on review the focus is on “whether there is sufficient evidence to sustain the guilty verdict”).