This opinion will be unpublished and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
Filed March 21, 2006
Lyon County District Court
File No. K5-04-729
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, Thomas R. Ragatz, Assistant Attorney General, 1800 Bremer Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101; and
Richard R. Maes, Lyon County Attorney, Courthouse,
John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Rochelle R. Winn, Assistant
Considered and decided by Dietzen, Presiding Judge; Wright, Judge; and Worke, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
On appeal from conviction for fifth-degree controlled substance offense, appellant Khat Dara argues that the district court abused its discretion in (1) admitting police testimony suggesting that appellant could have been selling the cocaine found in his apartment when appellant was charged only with a possession offense, and (2) in denying his motion for a mistrial after the arresting officer testimony referred to inculpatory statements appellant made after his arrest but before he was given a Miranda warning. We affirm.
D E C I S I O N
Admission of Testimony
“Evidentiary rulings rest within the
sound discretion of the [district] court and will not be reversed absent a
clear abuse of discretion. On appeal,
the appellant has the burden of establishing that the [district] court abused
its discretion and that the appellant was thereby prejudiced.” State
v. Amos, 658 N.W.2d 201, 203 (
Appellant argues that the district
court abused its discretion by allowing the detective to testify regarding
evidence that implied appellant sold drugs.
In August 2004, while investigating another crime, a detective received
information from an informant that drugs were present at an apartment in the
A review of the evidence shows there is no reasonably possibility that the error, if any, significantly affected the jury’s decision to convict appellant. The other evidence against appellant was more than sufficient to convict him. The detective received information from an informant that appellant had drugs in the freezer in his apartment. During the execution of a valid search warrant, drugs were found in the freezer in appellant’s apartment. The detectives also seized a digital scale, a police scanner, plastic bags, a small amount of marijuana, and more than $9,000 in cash from various places throughout appellant’s apartment. At the time the search warrant was executed, appellant was the only person listed on the apartment lease. Appellant was not charged with the sale of cocaine, and even if the district court erred by admitting the testimony, that error does not warrant reversal.
Appellant also claims that a portion of the prosecutor’s closing argument proves that admission of the packaging and sale testimony was not harmless. In his closing argument, the prosecutor stated:
There are some other items in this case. You have the scale, the baggies, a considerable amount of cash. Now, as I said, this is not a sale case, but it was particularly odd that people who were just renting this apartment, were going to be there for a short period of time, when they go in and execute the search warrant, they find over $5,000 on a shelf in [appellant’s] room, with a couple caps over it. It would appear that most of these, or at least what’s pictured are hundred-dollar bills, there might be some other denominations, but you know, why it is that you have all that cash there? . . .
You had another $4,000 combined there. So, I think those are other factors that you can look at as a jury to determine whether or not [appellant] possessed in this case 1.6 grams of cocaine.
prosecutor’s closing argument, however, must be taken as a whole to determine
if it provides a basis for reversal.
Denial of Motion for Mistrial
also argues that the district court violated his right to a fair trial by
denying his motion for a mistrial. When
reviewing a denial of a motion for a mistrial, this court applies an
abuse-of-discretion standard. State
v. Long, 562 N.W.2d 292,
Appellant is not entitled to relief. First, there was no prosecutorial misconduct. While prosecutors must be cautious of what their witnesses’ testimony will be at trial, the record in this case shows that the prosecutor did not have knowledge of the information prior to trial as it was not contained in the police report. Second, the statements did not prejudice appellant. After defense counsel objected, the evidence was stricken and the jurors were directed to disregard the testimony. Finally, defense counsel did not request a continuance; rather, appellant chose to move forward with a curative instruction from the court. Based on these reasons, the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying appellant’s motion for a mistrial.