This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Brenda Lou Datwyler,
Filed January 24, 2006
Redwood County District Court
File No. K2-03-565
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 1800 Bremer Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101; and
Michelle A. Dietrich, Redwood County Attorney, Michael G. Moesenthin, Assistant County Attorney, Redwood County Courthouse, P. O. Box 130, 250 South Jefferson, Redwood Falls, MN 56283 (for respondent)
John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Sara L. Martin, Assistant Public
Considered and decided by Worke, Presiding Judge; Toussaint, Chief Judge; and Minge, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
In this appeal from a conviction for conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine, appellant argues that the district court abused its discretion in admitting Spreigl evidence of appellant’s prior conviction for manufacturing methamphetamine, that the evidence was insufficient to prove a conspiracy, and that her sentence, based on a judicial finding of a custody-status point, violated her right to a jury trial under Blakely. We affirm.
On September 4, 2003, appellant Brenda Lou Datwyler was shopping with a friend, B.S. At one store, appellant purchased two boxes of ephedrine, hydrogen peroxide, a whistle, and distilled water. B.S. purchased a tent light, three boxes of ephedrine, Icy Hot, batteries, and Imodium. At a second store, appellant purchased wick holders and B.S. purchased Iso-Heet, antihistabs, and acetone solvent. On September 5, 2003, appellant and B.S. went to a third store. Appellant purchased a hobby-knife set and a brass-torch set, and B.S. purchased a buffet range, acetone, a micro-torch kit, butane, WD-40, refinishing gloves, solvent gloves, and muriatic acid. Following each transaction, store employees contacted either the Drug Task Force or detectives with information that two female customers had purchased items known to be used in the manufacture of methamphetamine.
Upon viewing a surveillance video from the first store, a deputy identified the customers as appellant and B.S. The deputy then recalled a report he received of a noxious odor emitting from B.S.’s residence. Based on his belief that a methamphetamine lab was probably in operation, the deputy applied for a search warrant for B.S.’s residence. B.S. claimed that she purchased pseudoephedrine pills because of an allergy or sinus infection, but no boxes of pills, empty boxes or empty wrappers were found. The officers searched for every item detailed on appellant’s and B.S.’s receipts, but the only items found were dish soap and Icy Hot patches. In B.S.’s van the officers discovered a receipt dated September 6, 2003, from a fourth store; however, none of the items on that receipt, including several bottles of hydrogen peroxide, were found.
The officers then went to appellant’s residence. When told that she was suspected of cooking methamphetamine, appellant responded: “give me an hour and I’ll get rid of it, it will be gone. I’ll never do it again.” Appellant was arrested and a search of her home revealed numerous items necessary to manufacture methamphetamine. Officers found a methamphetamine lab in appellant’s basement and recovered many of the items detailed on appellant’s and B.S.’s receipts. Appellant claimed that she did not purchase any of the items found in her basement and that B.S. purchased the hotplate. Appellant explained that B.S. was getting “ripped off” by the people she was getting methamphetamine and appellant told her that “maybe [appellant] could do it better.” Appellant stated: “I got that stuff cuz [sic] I was gonna [sic] make it, do a thing I been told about in prison. I’s [sic] just tryin [sic] an experiment. . . . It didn’t work. To make crystals and it don’t [sic] work.” Appellant agreed that B.S. knew that the pills were purchased to make methamphetamine, but that B.S. did not know “how to do any of that” and was just a “user.” Appellant conceded that she did not want to say more about B.S. because she did not want to be a “rat.”
Appellant was charged with conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine—first-degree controlled-substance crime, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 152.021, subd. 2a (2002). During trial, the state moved to introduce evidence of appellant’s 2000 conviction for methamphetamine manufacture to prove that appellant had knowledge of the manufacturing process. The district court determined that the evidence was relevant and material, and because the state’s case was weak on the intent to manufacture methamphetamine, and the 2000 conviction related specifically to knowledge of the process, it was admissible for that limited purpose. A limiting instruction was read to the jury before the evidence was offered and in final instructions that appellant was not to be convicted solely on the basis of the 2000 conviction. Appellant was found guilty and sentenced to the presumptive sentence of 122 months in prison. This appeal follows.
D E C I S I O N
Evidence of other crimes or
misconduct is not admissible to show bad character. State v. Spreigl, 272
A district court may admit Spreigl
evidence if it finds that “(1) the evidence is clear and convincing that the
defendant participated in the Spreigl incident, (2) the Spreigl evidence is relevant and
material to the state’s case, and (3) the probative value of the Spreigl evidence is not outweighed by
its potential for unfair prejudice.” Pierson
v. State,637 N.W.2d
571, 580 (
argues that the evidence of her prior conviction was not relevant or material
to show that she knew how to manufacture methamphetamine because she did not
contest that fact. “To be ‘relevant and
material,’ the other crime must be sufficiently similar to the charged crime in
terms of time, place or modus operandi.”
State v. Greenleaf,591
N.W.2d 488, 505 (
Even if evidence is relevant, it “may
be excluded if its probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of
Appellant argues that the state’s case was not weak on the issue of whether she had knowledge of how to manufacture methamphetamine. Appellant contends that the state’s case was weak on whether she and B.S. conspired to manufacture methamphetamine and the evidence had no connection to the conspiracy charge. However, the state’s case was weak as to the conspiracy, and the evidence did relate to that charge because the state needed the evidence to show that either appellant or B.S. knew what to do with the items they purchased. Without the admitted evidence, the state only showed that appellant and B.S. purchased items that can be used in the manufacture of methamphetamine. Further, the district court made a determination regarding the necessity of the evidence to the state’s case near the end of the state’s case-in-chief. The only witness that testified after the admission of the evidence of appellant’s prior conviction was a deputy who dismantled the lab found in appellant’s basement.
Finally, appellant argues that the evidence was prejudicial because it undermined the presumption of innocence. Appellant contends that the jury found her guilty because they believed she was a bad person worthy of punishment and that the district court compounded the prejudicial effect by failing to instruct the jury on the purpose of the evidence. However, to limit any prejudicial effect, the district court gave the jury a cautionary instruction regarding the limited purpose of the evidence prior to the introduction of the evidence and again in final instructions. The district court did not abuse its discretion in admitting evidence of appellant’s 2000 conviction.
Sufficiency of the Evidence
When 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 a light most favorable
to the conviction, was sufficient to permit the jurors to reach the verdict which
they did.” State v. Webb, 440
N.W.2d 426, 430 (
Appellant argues that
the evidence was insufficient for the jury to find her guilty of conspiracy to
manufacture methamphetamine because the evidence was circumstantial and the
state failed to prove that appellant and B.S. had an agreement. A
person is guilty of conspiracy when he or she “conspires with another to commit
a crime and in furtherance of the conspiracy one or more of the parties does
some overt act in furtherance of such conspiracy[.]” Minn. Stat. § 609.175, subd. 2 (2002). Although a formal agreement is not required,
the agreement to commit a crime must be shown by objective evidence. State v. Hatfield, 639 N.W.2d 372, 376
Appellant contends that the evidence merely shows that B.S.
provided her with items she requested and that all of the items had legitimate
and reasonable household uses. Appellant
argues that her case is similar to
Hatfield. In Hatfield, the appellant challenged a conspiracy-to-manufacture-methamphetamine
charge because the alleged co-conspirator merely complied with a request to
pick up and deliver a cooler and a propane tank. Hatfield,
639 N.W.2d at 374. The Minnesota Supreme
Court emphasized that the focus is whether there was “objective evidence that Hatfield agreed with another to produce
did more than serve as a courier with mere knowledge of what she was
purchasing. Appellant stated that B.S.
told her that she was getting the short end of the deal from the people who had
been supplying her with methamphetamine.
Appellant further stated that she did not purchase any of the items
found in her basement and that B.S. knew that the pills were purchased to make
methamphetamine. Further, B.S.’s
receipts show that she purchased most of the necessary items. Despite B.S.’s testimony that she used many
of the products in her art and that she needed the pseudoephedrine pills
because of an allergy or sinus infection, none of these items were found in her
home or vehicle; a search produced only two of the items the women purchased
together. While B.S. testified that she merely
purchased items for appellant because she loved her and that she never asked
appellant to explain the manufacturing process, it was up to the jury to
determine witness credibility, and the jury apparently did not find B.S.’s
testimony to be credible. See
support a conspiracy conviction, the evidence must objectively indicate that at
least one person conspired with another to commit a crime and that one or more
of those persons performed an overt act in furtherance of the agreement. See
was convicted of first-degree conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine in
violation of Minn. Stat. § 152.021 (2002).
This is a severity-level-nine offense.
Appellant had three criminal-history points—two felony points for a
prior conviction and one custody-status point because the current offense was
committed while appellant was on parole.
The district court imposed the presumptive sentence of 122 months in
prison. Appellant argues that her
sentence must be reduced because the use of the custody-status point in the
calculation of her presumptive sentence violates Blakely v. Washington, 542