This opinion will be unpublished and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
Scott Carl Richard Thielen,
Filed April 25, 2006
Olmsted County District Court
File No. K3-03-4455
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 1800 Bremer Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101; and
David F. McLeod,
Assistant Olmsted County Attorney,
John M. Stuart,
State Public Defender, Sara L. Martin, Assistant State Public Defender,
Considered and decided by Toussaint, Chief Judge, Willis, Judge, and Crippen, Judge.
In this appeal from a conviction of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, appellant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence and argues that the district court abused its discretion by determining that the six-year-old victim was competent to testify. We affirm.
Appellant Scott Thielen was charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.342, subd. 1(a) (2002), and second-degree criminal sexual conduct, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.343, subd. 1(a) (2002), after sexually assaulting then-four-year-old A.F. The state later added a third charge of second-degree criminal sexual conduct, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.343, subd. 1(h).
The jury found appellant guilty of all three counts. On the count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, the district court sentenced appellant to 144 months. But it stayed execution of the sentence and placed appellant on probation for 30 years on the conditions that he serve one year in jail, successfully complete various treatment programs, and abstain from drugs and alcohol.
1. Sufficiency of Evidence
Appellant argues that the record is
insufficient to support his conviction of first-degree criminal sexual
conduct. Our review of this claim is limited to a thorough
analysis of the record to determine “whether the facts in the record and the
legitimate inferences drawn from them would permit the jury to reasonably
conclude that the defendant was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.” Davis v. State, 595 N.W.2d 520, 525 (
Appellant argues that the record
fails to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he sexually penetrated A.F. But
testimony about the abuse was vague and inconsistent, but
The testimony of
A.F.’s mother and grandmother corroborates A.F.’s testimony and statements made
Appellant also challenges the
district court’s determination that
A child less than ten years old is
presumed competent to testify unless the district court finds that the child
lacks the capacity to tell the truth or the ability to recall facts. Minn. Stat. § 595.02, subd. 1(m) (2004);
district court asked A.F. several questions about his name, how old he is,
where he will go to school, and what a judge is. A.F. had difficulty answering a few of these
questions, and he turned to his mother for direction several times. She encouraged
argues that the district court asked cursory and leading questions. But the record shows that the court asked
questions typically used to determine a child’s competency. A.F. was able to answer most of the questions
appropriately, demonstrating his capacity to tell the truth and recall
facts. The court did not abuse its
discretion by determining that
3. Other Issues
Appellant also argues that the
district court deprived him of his right to testify and to present a defense by
excluding testimony that appellant was attracted to women and had taken a
polygraph test, and by preventing appellant’s attorney from arguing in closing
that appellant believed child molestation was wrong. This court reviews evidentiary challenges for
an abuse of discretion, even when an appellant alleges that his constitutional
rights were violated. State v. Profit, 591 N.W.2d 451, 463 (
Both the state and federal
constitutions afford criminal defendants a due-process right to “a meaningful
opportunity to present a complete defense.” State v.
Richards, 495 N.W.2d 187, 191 (
of appellant’s attraction to women is not probative or relevant to the
allegations of sexual contact with A.F.
It does not tend to make any fact of
consequence to the determination of appellant’s guilt more probable or less
Neither the results of a polygraph test nor evidence that a
defendant took such a test is admissible in criminal trials. State
v. Opsahl, 513 N.W.2d 249, 253 (
argues that the district court also denied his right to present a defense by
not allowing his attorney in closing argument to discuss appellant’s belief
that child molestation is wrong. Both
the prosecutor and defense counsel are entitled to argue to the jury “all
reasonable inferences from the evidence in the record.” State
The district court limited appellant’s closing argument because appellant’s opinion about child molestation is not “particularly germane.” Appellant’s opinion about child molestation does not tend to make his guilt more or less probable, and it is misleading to argue that because appellant thought child molestation was wrong, he did not commit the crimes alleged. Because the district court’s limitation of appellant’s argument safeguards the jury from misleading inferences, the court did not abuse its discretion.
* Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.