This opinion will be unpublished and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

A03-847

 

In the Matter of the

Welfare of D.S.S., Child.

 

Filed March 16, 2004

Affirmed

Hudson, Judge

 

Stearns County District Court

File No. J1-02-51830

 

Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 1800 NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, Minnesota 55101-2134; and

 

Janelle P. Kendall, Stearns County Attorney, Janis L. Hovda, Assistant County Attorney, Administration Center, Room 448, 705 Courthouse Square, St. Cloud, Minnesota 56303 (for respondent)

 

John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Ann McCaughan, Assistant Public Defender, 2221 University Avenue Southeast, Suite 425, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55414 (for appellant child)

 

            Considered and decided by Anderson, Presiding Judge; Stoneburner, Judge; and Hudson, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N

HUDSON, Judge

            Appellant D.S.S. was adjudicated delinquent of one count of receiving stolen property.  On appeal of his delinquency adjudication, D.S.S. argues the evidence is insufficient because the testimony that connects him to the stolen property came from an alleged accomplice, and even if there is sufficient evidence to corroborate the accomplice’s testimony, the state failed to prove that D.S.S. knew the parts in his possession were stolen.  Because we find that the testimony of the alleged accomplice was sufficiently corroborated, and because reasonable inferences from the evidence are consistent with D.S.S.’s guilt and inconsistent with any rational hypothesis other than guilt, we affirm.

FACTS

Jeremy Alman owned a 1998 Kawasaki KX125 dirt bike.  In May 2002 Alman decided to sell the bike to his friend Joshua Schindele.  On May 11, 2002, Schindele parked his pickup truck in the parking lot outside his apartment, with the bike strapped in the back of the pickup.  The next morning Schindele saw the bike was gone and called the police.  Chief Todd Rohloff responded and noticed two sets of footprints next to the pickup.  Chief Rohloff later took a report of a red Honda generator taken from the back of a different pickup truck three blocks from Schindele’s residence that same night.

On May 12, 2002, D.S.S. and a friend went to Paul Wruck’s house and asked him if they could store a dirt bike and a generator at his house.  D.S.S. explained that some people owed them money and gave them the bike and generator to partially pay the debt, and he was going to sell the bike.

On May 22, 2002, D.S.S. went to Joel Finifrock’s residence and asked him if he wanted to buy a motorcycle motor.  D.S.S. told Finifrock that a friend wanted to sell a motorcycle for parts.  Finifrock went with D.S.S. to look at the motor, and when they arrived, Finifrock saw a disassembled 125 Kawasaki bike and offered to buy the whole bike.  D.S.S. told Finifrock that he would bring the owner over and Finifrock was to pay the owner.  Finifrock took possession of the parts and reassembled the bike.  Finifrock said the owner never came by to collect the money.

On June 7, 2002, Chief Rohloff received a call from an anonymous informant who told him the stolen bike had been sold to Finifrock who took the bike to the Barnum area.  The next day Chief Rohloff drove to Finifrock’s house.  Chief Rohloff informed Finifrock that he was looking for a dirt bike that was stolen and showed Finifrock a photo of the stolen bike.  Finifrock said the bike was in his shed and retrieved the bike for Chief Rohloff, who identified it as the stolen bike by its vehicle identification number.  The next day Finifrock turned over the bike to Chief Rohloff.

On June 25, 2003, Chief Rohloff located D.S.S. and asked him “if he would give a statement in regards to the dirt bike and generator that he stole.”  D.S.S. declined to do so and stated, “f--k you, you can’t prove a f--king thing and you can’t arrest me.”

D.S.S. was charged by petition with two counts of felony theft and two counts of receiving stolen property.  A bench trial was held, and the district court found D.S.S. guilty of one count of receiving stolen property.  The district court dismissed the charges of theft and possession of the generator. 

The district court adjudicated D.S.S. delinquent, placed him under supervision, and ordered restitution to be determined by community corrections.  Alman submitted an estimate requesting restitution of $1,806.54 for the parts and labor required to repair the bike.  Counsel for D.S.S. requested a contested restitution hearing, which, as of the date of briefing, has not been held.  D.S.S. filed this appeal.

D E C I S I O N

When reviewing a claim of insufficient evidence, this court examines the record and determines if the evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the conviction, is sufficient to sustain the fact-finder’s conclusions.  State v. Webb, 440 N.W.2d 426, 430 (Minn. 1989).  This court will not reverse a decision if the fact-finder, acting with respect for the principles of presumed innocence and proof beyond a reasonable doubt, could have reasonably found as they did.  State v. Alton, 432 N.W.2d 754, 756 (Minn. 1988). 

D.S.S. argues the evidence was insufficient to find him guilty of receiving stolen property because Finifrock’s testimony was the only connection between D.S.S. and the stolen bike parts.  D.S.S. notes that Finifrock said that he assumed the bike parts were stolen when he offered to buy them from D.S.S.  D.S.S. argues that because Finifrock assumed the parts were stolen when he offered to buy them, Finifrock could be charged with receiving stolen property and is therefore an accomplice.  D.S.S. argues that since Finifrock is an accomplice, his testimony may not be used to convict D.S.S. of receiving stolen property, unless the testimony is corroborated.  D.S.S. contends Finifrock’s testimony was not corroborated, and that, even if there were sufficient evidence to corroborate Finifrock’s testimony, the state failed to prove that D.S.S. knew the parts in his possession were stolen.  Respondent counters that the circumstantial evidence is consistent with the finding that D.S.S. received stolen property.

To establish the crime of felony receiving stolen property, the state had to prove that (1) D.S.S. received, possessed, transferred, bought, or concealed stolen property, (2) he knew or had reason to know the property was stolen, and (3) the value of the property was more than $500 but not more than $2,500.  Minn. Stat. § 609.53, subd. 1 (2002); Minn. Stat. § 609.52, subd. 3(3)(a) (2002).  If Finifrock was, as D.S.S. contends, an accomplice, then his testimony alone may not be used to convict D.S.S. of receiving stolen property.  Minn. Stat. § 634.04 (2002).  Finifrock’s testimony would have to be corroborated, but not on every point or on every element of the crime.  State v. Lemire, 315 N.W.2d 606, 610 (Minn. 1982).  “Corroborative evidence is sufficient if it restores confidence in the accomplice’s testimony, confirming its truth and pointing to the defendant’s guilt in some substantial degree.”  Id. (quotations omitted). 

Finifrock told the police that he “assumed” the bike was stolen.  Finifrock testified, however, that he had been involved in “legitimate deals” where there were no titles and people were selling parts that were not registered.  Finifrock also testified that he was “surprised,” “shocked,” and “disappointed” when he learned the bike was stolen.  Finifrock testified that he may have been “questioning” the deal because the bike was disassembled, and when Chief Rohloff wanted the bike back “maybe some of these things that at the time . . . I was personally questioning are now coming true.”  This court views the evidence in the light most favorable to the conviction, and in the light most favorable to the conviction, Finifrock could have thought this was a “legitimate deal.”  Furthermore, Finifrock’s testimony was sufficiently corroborated by the discovery of the bike in Finifrock’s shed.  In addition, Wruck testified that D.S.S. asked to store a bike and a generator at his house.  A bike and generator were stolen on the night before.  The circumstantial evidence shows that D.S.S. had possession of a bike that is most likely the stolen bike; D.S.S. represented himself as owning or having authority to sell the bike; and D.S.S. exercised dominion and control over the bike.

D.S.S. argues that even if there is sufficient evidence to corroborate Finifrock’s testimony, the state failed to prove that D.S.S. knew the parts in his possession were stolen.  D.S.S. claims that his conviction rests entirely on circumstantial evidence, and therefore his conviction merits stricter scrutiny upon review.

“Where a conviction is based on circumstantial evidence, the verdict will be sustained on appeal when the reasonable inferences from such evidence are consistent only with a defendant’s guilt and inconsistent with any rational hypothesis except that of guilt.”  Alton, 432 N.W.2d at 756 (Minn. 1988).  “The evidence as a whole need not exclude all possibility that the defendant is innocent, it must only make such a theory seem unreasonable.”  State v. Anderson, 405 N.W.2d 527, 529 (Minn. App. 1987), review denied (Minn. July 22, 1987).  Here, although the evidence is thin, it shows that a day after a bike and generator were stolen, D.S.S. asked Wruck if he (D.S.S.) could store a bike and a generator at Wruck’s house.  It is reasonable to infer that D.S.S. knew or had reason to know the bike was stolen.  In addition, D.S.S. was the only person in contact with Finifrock concerning the sale.  D.S.S. directed Finifrock to the location of the bike parts and agreed to let Finifrock buy all of the parts.  Furthermore, the evidence shows that the bike that D.S.S. sold to Finifrock was the stolen bike, as Chief Rohloff verified it as the stolen bike by the vehicle identification number.  This court has held that “[u]nexplained possession of stolen property within a reasonable time after the theft is sufficient to support a conviction.”  Anderson, 405 N.W.2d at 530.  Reasonable inferences from the evidence are consistent with D.S.S.’s guilt and make any theory of D.S.S.’s innocence seem unreasonable.  D.S.S. possessed the stolen bike, implied he either owned or had authority to sell the bike, and a reasonable inference can be made that he tried to conceal the bike by attempting to store it at Wruck’s house and by disassembling the bike and selling the parts.

Because Finifrock’s testimony was sufficiently corroborated, and because reasonable inferences from the evidence are consistent only with D.S.S.’s guilt and inconsistent with any rational hypothesis other than guilt, we affirm.

Affirmed.