This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).






State of Minnesota,





Gregory Allen Sorenson,



Filed December 20, 2005


Kalitowski, Judge


Stearns County District Court

File No. K8-04-491


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


Janelle Kendall, Stearns County Attorney, Administration Center, Room 448, 705 Courthouse Square, St. Cloud, MN 56303-4701 (for respondent)


Daniel Guerrero, Meshbesher & Spence, Ltd., 1616 Park Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55404 (for appellant)


            Considered and decided by Kalitowski, Presiding Judge; Stoneburner, Judge; and Crippen, Judge.*

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


            Appellant Gregory Allen Sorenson challenges his conviction of terroristic threats, arguing that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction.  We affirm.


            In considering a claim of insufficient evidence, this court’s review is limited to a painstaking analysis of the record to determine whether the evidence, when viewed in the light most favorable to the conviction, was sufficient to allow the jurors to reach the verdict that they did.  State v. Webb, 440 N.W.2d 426, 430 (Minn. 1989).  We must assume that the jury believed the state’s witnesses 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, could reasonably conclude that the defendant was guilty of the charged offense.  Bernhardt v. State, 684 N.W.2d 465, 476-77 (Minn. 2004).

            Minnesota law provides that a person is guilty of making 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 (2004).  A statement is threatening if the “communication in its context would have a reasonable tendency to create apprehension that its originator will act according to its tenor.”  State v. Schweppe, 306 Minn. 395, 399, 237 N.W.2d 609, 613 (1975) (quotations omitted).  But the statute does not “authorize grave sanctions against the kind of verbal threat which expresses transitory anger which lacks the intent to terrorize.”  State v. Jones, 451 N.W.2d 55, 63 (Minn. App. 1990),  (quotations omitted) (alteration in original), review denied (Minn. Feb. 21, 1990).

            Here, appellant argues that the state failed to prove that he intended to terrorize or acted with reckless disregard of the risk of terrorizing another individual.  Intent is a subjective state of mind, but may be inferred from the “surrounding circumstances.”  Schweppe, 306 Minn. at 401, 237 N.W.2d at 614.  Although the effect of a terroristic threat on the victim is not an essential element of the offense, a victim’s reaction to the threat is “circumstantial evidence relevant to the element of intent.”  Id.  “A person acts ‘recklessly’ when he consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the element of an offense exists or will result from his conduct.”  State v. Zupetz, 322 N.W.2d 730, 733 (Minn. 1982) (citation omitted).

            Here, a licensed practical nurse testified that appellant, a patient she had spoken with on several prior occasions, telephoned the mental health unit of the hospital and “rant[ed] and rave[d]” to her for approximately 20 to 30 minutes.  His tone was loud and he became angrier as he complained about his doctor, missed appointments, his pain, and his medication.  When the nurse offered to find appellant an earlier doctor appointment, appellant indicated that he did not want to see his doctor, Dr. Kemp, and then stated, “Dr. Kemp is dead to me.  If I see Dr. Kemp I’ll shoot him.”  Appellant then hung up the phone.

            The nurse testified that the phone conversation left her “trembling and shaking” and afraid that appellant would “come in and shoot up the place.”  The nurse became so upset that she could not immediately tell others what had happened.  When the nurse spoke with the police later that morning, she was still trembling and her eyes were watering.  Appellant argues that the nurse reacted so severely only because she had worked in the mental health unit for less than a year.  But the nurse had 18 years of nursing experience and the other hospital staff also took the threats seriously.

            The nurse was directed to notify Dr. Kemp and the police of the phone conversation.  Dr. Kemp testified that he was concerned for his own safety and the others in the clinic, and that he takes “such comments very seriously” because “there’s never any way of knowing what someone will or won’t do in the future.”  Additionally, a police officer testified that although patients have previously threatened the hospital staff, unlike appellant’s threat, the previous threats came from patients locked in the psychiatric unit who were on heavy medication.

            Appellant further argues that he lacked the intent to terrorize because he was merely angry and frustrated.  But anger does not always negate a speaker’s intent.  See, e.g., State v. Stephenson, 361 N.W.2d 844, 845 (Minn. 1985) (ruling that the evidence established that defendant threatened school officials after he was dismissed from a training program and became angry).  Based on appellant’s behavior and the hospital staff’s reactions, we conclude that the evidence was sufficient for a jury to reasonably infer that appellant recklessly risked that another would perceive his statements as threatening.  Thus, we conclude that a jury could reasonably determine that appellant was guilty of the charge of terroristic threats.       


*  Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.