This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

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






State of Minnesota,


Steven Grundmann,


Filed July 20, 2004


Minge, Judge


Kanabec County District Court

File No. K3-02-376



Mike Hatch, Attorney General, Tibor M. Gallo, Assistant Attorney General, 1800 NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101-2134; and


Norman J. Loren, Kanabec County Attorney, 18 North Vine Street, Suite 202, Mora, MN 55051 (for respondent)


John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Ann McCaughan, Assistant Public Defender, 2221 University Avenue S.E., Suite 425, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant)


            Considered and decided by Halbrooks, Presiding Judge; Harten, Judge; and Minge, Judge.



 U N P U B L I S H E D  O P I N I O N


MINGE, Judge


            Appellant challenges both his conviction of felony theft and the amount of restitution, arguing that there is insufficient evidence to support the conviction and insufficient factual support for the amount of restitution he was ordered to pay.  Because the evidence is sufficient to find appellant guilty and because appellant failed to meet his burden in challenging restitution, we affirm. 


            On June 21, 2002, appellant Steven Grundmann was assisting John Roeschlein, a self-employed landscaper, with a landscaping job.  On June 22, Roeschlein discovered that $1,100 he had received for the job was missing from his truck.  Appellant was thereafter arrested and convicted of felony theft.  The district court sentenced him to 21 months in prison and ordered him to pay Roeschlein $1,100 in restitution. 





            The first issue is whether the evidence was sufficient to sustain appellant’s conviction of felony theft.  We apply the same standard of review to bench trials and jury trials when determining whether the evidence was sufficient to support a conviction.  Davis v. State, 595 N.W.2d 520, 525 (Minn. 1999).   In considering a sufficiency-of-the-evidence claim, our review is limited to a painstaking analysis of the record to determine whether the evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the conviction, was sufficient to allow the fact-finder to reach the verdict that it did.  State v. Webb, 440 N.W.2d 426, 430 (Minn. 1989).  We must assume that the fact-finder believed the state’s witnesses and disbelieved evidence contradicting those witnesses.  Dale v. State, 535 N.W.2d 619, 623 (Minn. 1995). 

When a conviction is based only on circumstantial evidence, it warrants stricter scrutiny.  State v. Moore, 481 N.W.2d 355, 360 (Minn. 1992).  Under the stricter review, we must determine whether the evidence, when taken as a whole, leads “so directly to the guilt of the accused as to exclude, beyond a reasonable doubt, any reasonable inference other than that of guilt.”  Id.(quotation omitted).  When reviewing a conviction based on circumstantial evidence, however, we must remember that circumstantial evidence is “entitled to the same weight as any evidence so long as the circumstances proved are consistent with the hypothesis that the accused is guilty and inconsistent with any rational hypothesis except that of guilt.”  State v. Profit, 591 N.W.2d 451, 467 (Minn. 1999) (quotation omitted).  Furthermore, the fact-finder determines the credibility and weight of circumstantial evidence, and we must continue to assume that the fact-finder believed the state’s witnesses.  State v. Wallace, 558 N.W.2d 469, 472 (Minn. 1997).

            Appellant was convicted of theft in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.52, subds. 2(1), 3(3)(a) (2002).  To prove appellant guilty, the state had to prove that (1) he intentionally took more than $500 from Roeschlein; (2) without Roeschlein’s consent; and (3) with the intent to permanently deprive Roeschlein of the money.  See id.  Appellant argues that the state failed to prove that he was the individual who stole the money.

            At trial, Roeschlein testified that appellant saw him place the money in his truck, appellant was alone in the truck at one point during the day, and appellant was the only individual other than himself in the truck.  He further testified that although appellant was staying with him because appellant had no money, appellant paid for his girlfriend’s hotel room on the day the money was stolen.   When Roeschlein questioned appellant about the missing money, appellant stated that the money was “all right” and at his brother’s house.  When police arrested appellant, they discovered two one-hundred dollar bills and some twenty-dollar bills in his pocket.  Appellant was unable to provide a credible explanation for the large amount of money.  The owner of the hotel at which appellant was found told police that appellant paid for two nights using a one-hundred dollar bill. 

            Appellant’s arguments merely attack the credibility of Roeschlein’s testimony, asking this court to believe appellant’s version of events.  This is contrary to established standards of appellate review.  See Dale, 535 N.W.2d at 623 (requiring appellate court to review evidence in light most favorable to fact-finder’s verdict, believing the state’s witnesses and disbelieving contrary evidence).  Assuming that the district court believed the state’s witnesses, the evidence in the record, when taken as a whole, points to appellant’s guilt and excludes, beyond a reasonable doubt, any reasonable inference other than that of guilt. The evidence was therefore sufficient to convict appellant of felony theft.


The second issue is whether the district court abused its discretion by ordering appellant to pay $1,100 in restitution.  Under Minnesota law, “[r]estitution is primarily intended to compensate a crime victim for his or her loss by restoring the victim to their original financial condition.”  State v. Colsch, 579 N.W.2d 482, 484 (Minn. App. 1998) (quotation omitted).  The district court has broad discretion in granting restitution and will not be reversed absent an abuse of that discretion.  See State v. Tenerelli, 598 N.W.2d 668, 671 (Minn. 1999).  But the record must provide a factual basis for the restitution awarded.  State v. Keehn, 554 N.W.2d 405, 408 (Minn. App. 1996), review denied (Minn. Dec. 17, 1996). 

When challenging restitution, the offender has both the burden of pleading and the initial burden of production.  Minn. Stat. § 611A.045, subd. 3 (2002).  A valid dispute arises only after an offender meets the threshold burden of raising a specific objection by affidavit.  State v. Thole, 614 N.W.2d 231, 235 (Minn. App. 2000).  Appellant argues that the district court abused its discretion in ordering him to pay $1,100 in restitution, but there is no evidence in the record that he submitted a detailed sworn affidavit challenging restitution.  Appellant therefore did not meet his burden of challenging the restitution order.   Furthermore, after a careful review of the record, we find that there exists a factual basis for the amount of restitution the district court ordered.