This opinion will be unpublished and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,
Reginald Leon Haynes,
Filed July 19, 2005
in part and remanded
File No. 04000322
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 1800 NCL
Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St.
Paul, MN 55101; and
Amy Klobuchar, Hennepin
County Attorney, Linda M.
Freyer, Assistant County Attorney, C-2000 Government Center, 300 South Sixth
Street, Minneapolis, MN 55487 (for respondent)
John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Jodie L. Carlson,
Assistant State Public Defender, 2221
University Avenue Southeast, Suite 425, Minneapolis,
Considered and decided by Hudson, Presiding Judge; Stoneburner, Judge; and Dietzen, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
challenges his convictions of terroristic threats, criminal damage to property,
and theft, arguing that there was insufficient evidence to support the convictions
and that the prosecutor committed misconduct.
Because sufficient evidence supported the convictions and the alleged
prosecutorial misconduct did not prejudice appellant’s right to a fair trial,
we affirm. Because the district court
failed to issue written findings of fact in accord with Minn. R. Crim. P.
26.01, subd. 2, we remand for written findings.
Reginald Haynes and Kesha Jackson lived together in an off-and-on romantic
relationship for about eight years. In
December 2003, they were living together in a townhouse in Brooklyn
Park with their daughter R., appellant’s son R., Jr., and Jackson’s son T.
Jackson testified at trial that on Sunday morning,
December 21, 2003, she and appellant had an argument when appellant stated that
he was going to take their daughter to Oklahoma
to visit his mother for the holidays. Jackson said she would
not allow it. Appellant became angry and
told Jackson that
he would hit her in the head with a tire iron, slash her throat, and put her in
a coma. Jackson was frightened and decided to leave
with R. and T. for her sister’s home.
Although it was
not police policy, Officer Michael Oakvik agreed to accompany Jackson when she returned to her townhouse on
Tuesday, December 23, because she was fearful.
entered the home, Oakvik heard her scream.
They found that the house was flooded; water faucets had been left
running and drains had been plugged. Jackson’s purses and shoes
filled the bathtub and were submerged in water.
and the children’s clothing had been taken out of the closets and strewn on the
flooded floor. Jackson’s clothing had also been slashed with
a sharp object; lying next to the cut clothing was a steak knife. A couch, loveseat, and chair in the living
room purchased by Jackson
had also been slashed. Jackson noticed that a computer, three
televisions, and other miscellaneous items were missing.
the incident, appellant was charged with one count of terroristic threats, one
count of criminal damage to property in excess of $500, one count of criminal
damage to property in excess of $2,500, and one count of theft. Appellant waived his right to a jury
trial. At his bench trial, appellant,
Jackson, Oakvik, and R., Jr., testified.
The district court convicted appellant of terroristic threats, criminal
damage to property in excess of $500, and theft. Appellant was sentenced to concurrent prison
terms of 21 months for terroristic threats, 17 months for criminal damage to
property, and 21 months for theft.
Appellant now challenges his convictions.
D E C I S I O N
Appellant contends that
the district court erred by failing to issue factual findings in a written
order. In cases tried without a jury, “[t]he court, within 7 days
after the general finding in felony and gross misdemeanor cases, shall in
addition specifically find the essential facts in writing on the record.” Minn.
R. Crim. P. 26.01, subd. 2. Here,
following the bench trial, the district court failed to issue any written
factual findings. The court made the
following oral factual findings on the record:
I find that the State has proved it
[sic] case beyond a reasonable doubt in that [appellant] threatened to commit a
crime of violence, that he made the threat – actually threats – with intent to
terrorize . . . Jackson and to cause extreme fear in her, and that the acts
took place on December 21st, 2003, in Hennepin County. So I find [appellant] guilty of Count I.
I also find that [appellant] intentionally
caused damage to the property of . . . Jackson,
that he damaged her clothing and personal property. She did not consent to the damage and the
damage reduced the value by more than $500.
Now I am not including in any of this the electronic sets, the computer
and the T.V. sets. But the evidence is
that they were not damaged, but that they were taken which was not charged in
this case. The items that I am including
are the sofa for $999, the clothing of approximately $300, and children’s
clothing at $100. And I find
[appellant], because of the value, not guilty of Count III.
. . . .
And the theft of property is charged
and I find [appellant] guilty. And that
would be the electronic equipment, . . . the three T.V. sets and the computer.
the district court made these oral findings, the failure to put them in writing
violates Minn. R. Crim. P. 26.01, subd. 2.
v. Taylor, 427 N.W.2d 1, 5 (Minn. App. 1988) (concluding
that record contained sufficient findings to support convictions but required
remand to district court for written findings so as to not “render the rule
meaningless”), review denied (Minn. Sept.
28, 1998); accord State v. Thomas,
467 N.W.2d 324, 327 (Minn. App. 1991). Thus,
while the district court’s oral factual findings on the record are adequate for
our review of the sufficiency of the evidence, to comply with rule 26.01, we
must remand for written findings supporting appellant’s convictions.
contends that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions of terroristic
threats, criminal damage to property, and theft. On a claim of insufficiency
of the evidence, this court’s review is limited to a careful analysis of the
record to determine whether the evidence, when viewed in the light most
favorable to the conviction, is sufficient to allow the factfinder to reach its
verdict. State v. Webb, 440
N.W.2d 426, 430 (Minn.
1989). On appeal, the reviewing court
must assume that the factfinder believed the state’s witnesses and disbelieved
any contrary evidence. State v. Moore, 438 N.W.2d 101, 108 (Minn. 1989).
The reviewing court will not disturb the verdict if the factfinder,
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). The factfinder determines the credibility of witnesses and weight of
their testimony. State v. Travica, 398 N.W.2d 666, 670 (Minn. App. 1987).
Appellant argues that the evidence was
insufficient to support his conviction of terroristic threats. A person is guilty of terroristic threats if
he “threatens, directly or indirectly, to commit any crime of violence with
purpose to terrorize another . . . or in a reckless disregard of the risk of
causing such terror or inconvenience . . . .” Minn. Stat. § 609.713, subd. 1 (2002).
contends that Jackson’s
testimony was inconsistent. Specifically,
appellant argues that Jackson testified that he
threatened violence over damage she did to his car, but later she testified
that it was over her refusal of his request to take their daughter to Oklahoma for the
holidays. However, the record reflects
that although Jackson
testified that appellant was angry about damage to his car, the discussion
about their daughter’s holiday plans resulted in appellant’s threats. Here, where the case depends on conflicting
testimony, we assume that the factfinder believed the state’s witnesses and
disbelieved contrary evidence. Moore,
438 N.W.2d at 108. Appellant requests
that we reverse the district court’s credibility judgment, which this court
will not do. See State v. Moot, 398 N.W.2d 21, 23 (Minn.
App. 1986) (“The trial court acts as factfinder in weighing the credibility of
the witnesses.”), review denied (Minn. Feb. 13,
1987). The district court judged the
witnesses’ credibility and found Jackson’s
testimony credible to support the conviction.
We defer to that finding and do not find it unreasonable.
next argues that Jackson’s
testimony revealed that he lacked the intent necessary under the terroristic
threats statute. He elaborates that the
threats were “idle expressions of [his] frustration rather than an expression
of an actual purpose to carry them out.”
Jackson’s testimony that when appellant told her he was going to take
their daughter to Oklahoma and she did not acquiesce, he became angry and told
her he was going to hit her head with a tire iron, slash her throat, and put
her in a coma. Jackson’s fear of appellant after this
incident prompted her to leave her home with her two children to stay with her
sister. Thus, it appears that if the district
court believed Jackson,
appellant threatened her with a crime of violence with the purpose of
terrorizing her necessary for a terroristic-threats conviction.
Further, intent is
generally determined from the defendant’s words and actions in light of the
surrounding circumstances. See State
v. Duea, 414 N.W.2d 513, 515 (Minn. App. 1987) (citing State v. Hadimon,
310 N.W.2d 564, 566 (Minn.
1981)). While respondent argues that
“intent” is not required by the terroristic-threats statute because the phrase
“purpose to terrorize” is used, we conclude that intent and purpose are synonymous
in this context. Nonetheless, there is
sufficient evidence to support the district court’s determination; it is
difficult to believe that a person would tell another person that he planned to
hit her with a tire iron, slash her throat, and put her in a coma without
having the purpose to terrorize her.
Because appellant’s purpose or intent to terrorize is evident from the
surrounding circumstances, his conviction of terroristic threats was sufficiently
supported by the record.
next argues that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his damage to property
conviction. Appellant was convicted of
criminal damage to property under Minn. Stat. § 609.595, subd. 1(3) (2002),
intentionally causes damage to physical property of another without the
latter's consent may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than five years
or to payment of a fine of not more than $10,000, or both, if:
. . . .
(3) the damage reduces
the value of the property by more than $500 measured by the cost of repair and
While appellant does not dispute
home was flooded; that shoes, purses, and clothing were soaked; and furniture
was slashed; he contends that the evidence is insufficient to support the
contention that he was responsible.
Appellant also argues that because the door was unlocked, anyone could
have entered the home and destroyed the property. He reiterates that none of the witnesses
testified that he was at the home when the damage occurred. But, appellant admitted being at the
townhouse on December 22 to remove his belongings. Jackson
discovered the damage when she returned on the morning of December 23.
circumstantial evidence supports appellant’s guilt. A conviction “based entirely on
circumstantial evidence merits stricter scrutiny than convictions based in part
on direct evidence.” State v. Jones, 516 N.W.2d 545, 549 (Minn. 1994). Circumstantial evidence in a criminal case
merits as much weight as any other type of evidence provided that the
circumstances proved are consistent with the hypothesis of guilt and
inconsistent with any other rational or reasonable hypothesis. State
v. Wallace, 558 N.W.2d 469, 472 (Minn.
1997). Given that appellant and Jackson
had a fight the same day, appellant was at the townhouse on December 22
ostensibly to remove his belongings, and only Jackson’s personal items,
including her sofa, shoes, purses, and clothes were slashed or soaked, the
district court could have reasonably concluded that the only plausible
inference to be drawn from the circumstances was that appellant was
responsible. See id. at 472-73 (upholding criminal sexual conduct conviction when
only circumstantial evidence supported it).
Furthermore, appellant’s conjecture that because the door was left
unlocked, anyone could have entered the townhouse and damaged the property, is
nothing more than speculation. “[F]or a
convicted criminal to successfully challenge a verdict based on circumstantial
evidence, he must show that his claim is consistent with a rational hypothesis
other than guilt.” State v. Race, 383 N.W.2d 656, 662 (Minn. 1986).
The theory of a random stranger entering the townhouse and destroying Jackson’s personal possessions
is not plausible or rational. Thus,
viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the conviction, the totality
of the circumstances supports appellant’s conviction of property damage of $500
next argues that he should not have been convicted of theft because he had a
“claim of right” to the property he was convicted of taking. A person who “intentionally and without claim
of right takes, uses, transfers, conceals or retains possession of movable
property of another without the other’s consent and with intent to deprive the
owner permanently of possession of the property” is guilty of theft. Minn.
Stat. § 609.52, subd. 2(1) (2002).
At trial, the parties disputed who owned the televisions and computer
that were taken from the home. Appellant
testified that he had the right to take the items when he moved out because he
paid half their cost. Jackson asserted that she bought the televisions
and computer. The district court acting
as the factfinder had the authority to determine the relative credibility of
the parties’ testimony. Moot, 398 N.W.2d at 23; State v. Spanyard, 358 N.W.2d 125, 127 (Minn. App. 1984), review denied (Minn. Feb. 27,
1985). It is not the duty of this court
to overturn the district court’s determination regarding the parties’ versions
of events. Travica, 398 N.W.2d at 670.
Thus, the evidence is sufficient to support appellant’s theft
to the prosecutor’s question to Oakvik at trial asking if Jackson had said “anything more specific
about who she believed” had damaged her property. Oakvik first answered affirmatively but then
provided a nonresponsive answer in which he introduced hearsay testimony
identifying appellant. Appellant argues
that the prosecutor committed misconduct by failing to instruct Oakvik that he
could not identify appellant.
to either bring a motion to strike or otherwise object to the response. While appellant’s counsel objected to the
preceding question on the basis of hearsay, she failed to object again after
Oakvik identified appellant as the person Jackson
suspected. “Íf the defendant failed to
object to the misconduct at trial, he forfeits the right to have the issue
considered on appeal, but if the error is sufficient, this court may review.” State
v. Powers, 654 N.W.2d 667, 678 (Minn.
2003) (citing State v. Sanders, 598
N.W.2d 650, 656 (Minn.
1999)). Even if we were to review the
alleged error, we conclude that the district court’s verdict was “surely
unattributable” to any error and thus was harmless. See State
v. King, 622 N.W.2d 800, 811 (Minn. 2001)
(quoting State v. Juarez, 572 N.W.2d
286, 292 (Minn.
1997)). Any alleged error here does not
warrant a new trial.
evidence supported appellant’s convictions and prosecutorial misconduct did not
impair his right to a fair trial, we affirm.
The district court failed to
provide written findings of fact in accord with Minn. R. Crim. P. 26.01, subd.
2, so we remand for written findings.
Affirmed in part and remanded.