This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
State of Minnesota,
Filed July 26, 2005
Affirmed in part and reversed in part
Gordon W. Shumaker, Judge
Pine County District
Attorney General, Tibor M. Gallo, Assistant Attorney General, 1800 Bremer
Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101-2134; and
Carlson, Pine County Attorney, Courthouse, 315 Main Street, Suite 8, Pine City,
Melissa V. Sheridan,
Assistant State Public Defender, 1380 Corporate Center Curve, Suite 320, Eagan,
MN 55121 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Willis,
Presiding Judge; Shumaker, Judge; and Crippen, Judge.
N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
W. SHUMAKER, Judge
Sean Patrick Anderson contends that his statements to the police were
involuntary and that the district court erred in failing to grant his motion to
suppress them. He also argues that the
three crimes of which he was convicted were all part of a single behavioral
incident and that the district court erred in imposing a sentence on the
assault conviction. Because the district
court properly denied appellant’s motion to suppress but erred in imposing a
sentence for the assault conviction, we affirm in part and reverse in part. We also vacate the sentence for assault.
On November 1, 2003, Pine
County deputy sheriff Jesse Wersal
responded to a call at the Holiday Gas Station in Pine City. There, he met Nathan Schwarz, who stated that
he had just been assaulted and robbed by Anderson and others. Schwarz was able to identify Anderson by name and to describe his vehicle. Deputy Wersal, who was familiar with Anderson, asked another deputy to check on Anderson’s vehicle. Anderson was
stopped in North Branch and held until Deputy Wersal transferred him to the Pine County
According to Deputy Wersal,
he read to Anderson his Miranda rights; Anderson indicated
that he understood his rights; and Anderson
said he wanted to talk to Deputy Wersal and Deputy Vosika. Deputy Wersal testified that, at no time
during the interview, did Anderson
ask the questioning to stop or request an attorney. Deputy Wersal also testified that Anderson’s demeanor
changed during the interview. At the
spoke normally but then began to cry.
Deputy Wersal testified that he believed Anderson
began to cry when he started telling the truth, and he testified that neither
he nor Deputy Vosika ever threatened Anderson.
Deputy Wersal indicated
that Anderson did not appear to be under the
influence of drugs and that Anderson’s
statement appeared to have been given voluntarily. But at the omnibus hearing, Anderson claimed that he had been high on
methamphetamine and marijuana before the robbery took place. He also stated that he gave the statement to
the police officers because he was scared.
The district court denied Anderson’s motion to
suppress his statement. The parties
agreed to submit the matter to the district court under stipulated facts in
order to preserve for appeal the denial of the motion to suppress Anderson’s
statement. On February 13, 2004, the
district court convicted Anderson
of aiding and abetting kidnapping, aggravated robbery in the first degree, and
assault in the second degree. On March
11, 2004, the court sentenced Anderson
to 44 months for the kidnapping charge, 44 months for the robbery charge, and
39 months for the assault charge, all to be served concurrently. This appeal followed.
E C I S I O N
Motion to Suppress
Anderson argues that the district court erred
in denying his motion to suppress the statement he made to the police.
In cases in which
the claim is made that a confession was involuntary or that the waiver of the Miranda rights was involuntary, the
[district] court must make a subjective factual inquiry into all of the
circumstances surrounding the giving of the statement. On appeal, this court will not reverse any
findings of fact unless they are clearly in error, but this court will make an
independent determination of voluntariness on the facts as found.
State v. Hardimon, 310 N.W.2d 564,
The voluntariness of a
confession must be shown by a preponderance of the evidence. State
v. Pilcher, 472 N.W.2d 327, 333 (Minn.
1991). For a confession to be deemed
involuntary, an element of coercive police conduct must exist. State
v. Hince, 540 N.W.2d 820, 824 (Minn.
1995). Coercive conduct may include
promises, express or implied, that elicit a confession. Id. The courts must look at the totality of the
circumstances to determine voluntariness.
Generally, the factors a court should focus on include the defendant’s
age, maturity, intelligence, education, experience, ability to comprehend, the
adequacy of a warning, the length and nature of the interrogation, and whether
the defendant was deprived of physical needs or denied access to friends. State
v. Thaggard, 527 N.W.2d 804, 808 (Minn.
1995). “In short, the true test of
admissibility is that the confession is made freely, voluntarily, and without
compulsion or inducement of any sort.” Haynes
v. State of Washington, 373 U.S. 503, 513, 83 S. Ct.
1336, 1343 (1963) (citation omitted).
Anderson argues that his confession was
involuntary and, thus, should not have been admitted. He contends that his confession was
involuntary because implicit threats and promises of leniency were made during
the interrogation and because he was intoxicated and fatigued at the time of
the interrogation. He claims that the coercion
came through implicit threats of how much trouble he would be in if he did not
tell the truth. He specifically notes
that the deputies called him a liar and told him he would look like a “big
idiot” if he was caught in a lie. He
also contends that Deputy Vosika’s comment that the jury would “throw the book
at [him]” was proof of an implicit threat of how much trouble he would be in if
he did not tell the truth. But it is not
improper to inform a defendant of the possible evidence marshaled against
472 N.W.2d at 334. And even lying to a
suspect as to the strength of the state’s case against him is not enough by itself
to render a confession involuntary. Thaggard, 527 N.W.2d at 811.
has not shown that the deputies actually threatened him. In fact, he admits that no specific threats
were made. More importantly, he was read
his rights, indicated that he understood them, and said he wanted to talk to
the deputies. While the supreme court
has pronounced its distaste for coercive methods, the deputies’ actions, simply
demanding that Anderson
tell the truth, are not the coercive conduct the supreme court contemplated. See id.
at 808-810 (condemning use of trickery and deception to induce a defendant
to waive his Miranda rights). The deputies repeatedly told Anderson that they were giving him the first
opportunity to tell them the truth about what happened, and asked that he stop
lying to them about the incident. Anderson eventually
confessed to the deputies, apologized for lying, and said that he had lied
because he was afraid of what would happen to him because this was the first
time he had ever been in trouble.
Anderson also argues that the confession was coerced
when the deputies impliedly promised lenient treatment. Specifically, he cites Deputy Vosika’s
statement that Anderson
had just made “stupid decisions” as proof of the implied promise of lenient
treatment. This statement does not
qualify as an implied promise of leniency.
It was an expression of the deputy’s viewpoint and did not reasonably
imply that “stupid decisions” are not serious when they result in crimes. Furthermore, even if Anderson interpreted certain statements to
imply that leniency would be given, courts do not mechanically hold statements
involuntary simply because a promise was involved. Id. at 811.
Finally, Anderson claims that his statements should be
considered involuntary because he was intoxicated and fatigued at the time of
the interrogation. He testified at the
omnibus hearing that he was high on methamphetamine before the incident leading
to his arrest and had not had much sleep before the interrogation. However, Deputy Wersal testified that Anderson did not appear
intoxicated during the interrogation.
And, during the interrogation, when Anderson was asked if he had been drinking
alcohol or smoking marijuana that evening, he indicated that he would not do
that. Additionally, the district court
determined, after examining the testimony and evidence submitted at the omnibus
hearing, that there was “no indication that [Anderson] was under the influence of
methamphetamine or sleep deprived.” Anderson,
a 19-year-old high-school graduate, was able to coherently and intelligently answer
all of the deputies’ questions.
Therefore, because Anderson
has failed to show that he was threatened, promised leniency, or that he was
intoxicated, and because he was clearly able to understand his rights and voluntarily
agreed to speak with the deputies, his claim that the district court erred in
admitting his statement to the police is without merit. We affirm the district court’s admission of
Anderson argues that his sentence for the
assault conviction should be vacated because it was part of the same behavioral
incident as the robbery and kidnapping.
When a person’s conduct constitutes more than one criminal offense, he
may be punished for only one of the offenses.
Minn. Stat. § 609.035, subd. 1 (2002). The purpose of this statute is to limit
punishment to a single sentence when a single behavioral incident results in
the violation of multiple criminal statutes.
State v. Brown, 597 N.W.2d
299, 305 (Minn. App. 1999), review denied (Minn. Sept. 14, 1999). Multiple punishment means that multiple
sentences, including concurrent sentences, are barred when Minn. Stat.
§ 609.035 applies. Id. When determining if the offenses arose from a
single behavioral incident, courts generally consider the factors of time and
place and whether the defendant was motivated by a single criminal
objective. State v. Bookwalter, 541 N.W.2d 290, 294 (Minn. 1995).
Anderson argues that the kidnapping, robbery,
and assault all occurred at the same time and place and were motivated by the
single objective of obtaining Schwarz’s money.
Essentially, he claims that the assault conviction is based on the fact
that he held a knife to Schwarz in order to effectuate the robbery, and, thus,
because robbing Schwarz was the goal throughout the incident, it qualifies as a
single behavioral incident under Minn. Stat. § 609.035, subd. 1. Anderson told
Schwarz that there was a party at Jeep Hill; and, upon arriving at Jeep Hill, Anderson pulled out a
knife and demanded Schwarz’s money.
Schwarz then gave him a five-dollar bill and a pack of cigarettes. Anderson
demanded more money, stating that he knew Schwarz had been paid that day and
that he wanted all of the money. Schwarz
that the rest of the money was hidden in his wallet back in town at a friend’s
house. Anderson then drove the van back to town in
order to collect more money. Upon
arriving in town, Schwarz attempted to escape, and Anderson stabbed him in the hand and attempted
to stab him in the back as he tried to run away. Anderson’s
goal throughout this incident was to retrieve money from Schwarz. Robbery was his motivation when he pulled the
knife and continued to be his motivation when he drove back to town, holding a
knife on Schwarz and eventually stabbing him.
We hold that a sufficient nexus in purpose between the assault and the
robbery existed, making both crimes part of the same continuous incident. Thus, while the conviction stands, the sentence
in part and reversed in part.