This opinion will be unpublished and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,
Maria Domingo Jimenez,
Filed August 9, 2005
Lyon County District
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 1800 Bremer Tower, 445
Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101;
R. Maes, Lyon County Attorney, Lyon County Government Center, 607 West Main
Street, Marshall, MN 56258 (for
John M. Stuart, State Public
Gaïtas, Assistant State Public
Defender, 2221 University Avenue
Southeast, Suite 425, Minneapolis,
MN 55414 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Hudson, Presiding
Chief Judge, and Forsberg, Judge.
P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Appellant challenges her
conviction of first-degree controlled substance crime, arguing that the
informant’s testimony and evidence that she was in the vicinity of the
controlled purchase is insufficient to support the conviction. We affirm.
On October 8, 2003, police informant
R.H. reported to the Lyon County
Sheriff’s Department that J.O. was
distributing narcotics. According to
R.H., J.O. could connect him with a
woman named “Maria,” who had cocaine
A controlled purchase was set up for
that same afternoon. R.H. was provided with
$600 to purchase 14 grams of cocaine and fitted with a radio transmitter to
monitor the transaction. Deputy Dan Louwagie
and the surveillance team followed R.H.
to a gas station near J.O.’s house, parking in a nearby lot. Several minutes later, the surveillance team
observed J.O. walk across the street
to the gas station and enter R.H.’s vehicle.
J.O. proceeded to call “Maria” on his cellular phone. Deputy Louwagie
later determined that the number belonged to appellant Maria Jimenez.
and J.O then drove across the street to J.O.’s house and parked in an alley to
await “Maria’s” arrival. A short time later, Deputy
Louwagie observed two women in a
green car pull into the alley and stop.
The green car was registered to Maria Jimenez. Deputy Louwagie saw a woman exit the green car,
enter R.H.’s car, and a minute later return to the green car and drive
R.H.’s testimony substantiates Deputy Louwagie’s
observations. R.H. testified that after
the green car pulled into the alley, Jimenez exited
her vehicle and entered his car. R.H.
offered Jimenez $600. Jimenez confirmed
the amount and handed R.H. what was
later determined to be 13.6 grams of methamphetamine. Jimenez exited
R.H.’s vehicle and drove away in the green car.
Both Deputy Louwagie
and R.H. identified Jimenez
as the woman who sold R.H. the
Jimenez and her niece, V.D.,
offered a different version of the events.
Jimenez testified that around 4:30 p.m. on
October 8, she received a phone call from J.O., but could not hear him because
of a bad connection. Jimenez
thought that J.O.’s pregnant sister might be going into labor, so she and V.D. drove to J.O.’s house. When they arrived, Jimenez
saw J.O. laughing at her, as if the
call had been a joke, so Jimenez drove off. According to Jimenez,
no one exited the vehicle or sold R.H.
two weeks after the controlled purchase, Jimenez was arrested and charged with
selling over 10 grams of methamphetamine, a first-degree controlled substance
crime, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 152.021, subd. 1(1) (2002). The matter proceeded to trial and a jury
convicted Jimenez of first-degree sale of a
controlled substance. Jimenez
moved for a judgment of acquittal, which was denied. The district court imposed a 43-month
sentence, a downward durational departure from the presumptive guidelines
sentence. This appeal followed.
D E C I S I O N
Jimenez argues that the evidence is insufficient to support
her conviction of first-degree sale of a controlled substance, Minn. Stat. §
152.021, subd. 1(1) (2002). Our
review of an insufficient evidence claim is limited to a careful analysis of
the record to determine whether the evidence, when viewed in the light most
favorable to the conviction, was sufficient to allow the jury to reach a guilty
verdict. State v. Olhausen, 681 N.W.2d 21, 25 (Minn. 2004).
We assume that the jury believed the testimony that supports the conviction
and disbelieved any evidence to the contrary.
State v. Moore, 438 N.W.2d 101, 108 (Minn. 1989). We 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, reasonably could conclude that the defendant
was guilty of the charged offense. Olhausen, 681 N.W.2d at 25-26. The evidence as a whole need not exclude all
possibility that the defendant is innocent, rather, it must only make such a
theory seem unreasonable. State v. Fidel, 451 N.W.2d 350, 353 (Minn. App. 1990), review
Apr. 13, 1990).
person is guilty of a first-degree controlled substance sale crime if “on one
or more occasions within a 90-day period the person unlawfully sells one or
more mixtures of a total weight of ten grams or more containing cocaine,
heroin, or methamphetamine.” Minn. Stat.
§ 152.021, subd. 1(1).
Jimenez denies selling methamphetamine to R.H. on October
contends that absent any physical evidence, such as fingerprints or the $600,
the informant’s testimony and the deputy’s observations are insufficient as a
matter of law to support the first-degree controlled substance conviction. It is well-established, however, that a
conviction can rest upon the testimony of a single credible witness. State
v. Foreman, 680 N.W.2d 536, 539 (Minn.
2004); State v. Bliss, 457 N.W.2d
385, 390 (Minn. 1990); State v. Hadgu, 681 N.W.2d 30, 34 (Minn.
App. 2004), review denied (Minn. Sept. 21,
2004). A single witness identification
can be sufficient to support a conviction “if a witness testifies that in his
belief, opinion, and judgment the defendant is the one he saw commit the
crime.” State v. Daniels,
361 N.W.2d 819, 827 (Minn.
1985). The jury is free to disbelieve
the defendant’s reasonable alternative explanations of what occurred. State
v. Collard, 414 N.W.2d 733, 736 (Minn.
App. 1987), review denied (Minn. Jan. 15, 1988).
the evidence in the light most favorable to the conviction, the record provides
a sufficient factual basis to support the jury finding that Jimenez
sold methamphetamine to R.H. on the afternoon of October 8. R.H., the police informant, testified that he
met J.O. at a gas station where J.O. called “Maria”
to arrange a buy. Jimenez
acknowledges receiving this call from J.O.
and Deputy Louwagie
verified that the number J.O. dialed belonged to Jimenez. R.H. testified that after making the phone
call, he and J.O. went to J.O.’s house
to wait for “Maria” to arrive. Several minutes later, a green car pulled up
and the woman who had been driving exited the vehicle. The woman entered R.H.’s vehicle and the
parties exchanged money and 13.6 grams of methamphetamine. The green car was registered to Jimenez and she admitted that she drove a green car to
J.O.’s house that afternoon. Deputy Louwagie observed
this entire transaction from across the street and corroborated R.H.’s factual
and R.H. identified Jimenez as the woman who sold
methamphetamine to R.H. Deputy Louwagie closely
observed Jimenez as she was driving away from J.O.’s
house and recognized her from a past encounter.
Based on a photograph shown to R.H. several minutes after the sale, R.H. confirmed that Jimenez
was the woman who sold him the methamphetamine.
At trial, Deputy Louwagie
and R.H. again identified Jimenez as the woman who sold R.H.
the methamphetamine. Jimenez’s
conviction rests not on one eyewitness identification, but on two eyewitness identifications.
Jimenez points to no specific evidence that would make
either R.H.’s or Deputy Louwagie’s
testimony not credible, other than the fact that R.H.
is a paid informant. But Minnesota has not
adopted a corroboration requirement for testimony from paid informants either
legislatively or judicially. In Minnesota, only
accomplice testimony must be corroborated.
Stat. § 634.04 (2004). In any
event, R.H.’s testimony was corroborated by Deputy Louwagie and by the circumstantial
Jimenez admitted at trial to driving by J.O.’s house
on October 8 in a green car, she testified that she never stopped the car to
complete a drug sale. Apparently, the
jury disbelieved Jimenez’s testimony, and we must
credit that finding. State v. Folkers,
581 N.W.2d 321, 327 (Minn.
1998) (noting it is the exclusive province of jury to determine the weight and
credibility to be afforded the testimony of each witness). Based on the testimony of Deputy Louwagie and the
informant, R.H., the jury reasonably
could have concluded that, rather than just driving by, Jimenez
went to J.O.’s house to sell methamphetamine.
The evidence is sufficient to support Jimenez’s
conviction of first-degree sale of a controlled substance.