This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

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






State of Minnesota,





Rodney Lee Hunt,



Filed June 13, 2006


Kalitowski, Judge


Olmsted County District Court

File No. K4-04-2725


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


Raymond F. Schmitz, Olmsted County Attorney, David F. McLeod, Assistant County Attorney, Government Center, 151 Fourth Street Southeast, Rochester, MN 55904 (for respondent)


Melissa Sheridan, 1380 Corporate Center Curve, Suite 320, Eagan, MN 55121 (for appellant)


            Considered and decided by Kalitowski, Presiding Judge; Hudson, Judge; and Worke, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


            Appellant Rodney Lee Hunt challenges his convictions of first-degree burglary and gross misdemeanor theft, arguing that the district court abused its discretion by (1) excluding extrinsic evidence offered to show a witness’s bias against appellant; and (2) admitting evidence of prior bad acts.  We affirm.



            Evidentiary rulings are within the district court’s discretion and will not be reversed absent a clear abuse of discretion.  State v. Amos, 658 N.W.2d 201, 203 (Minn. 2003).  On appeal, the appellant has the burden of establishing that the district court abused its discretion and that the evidentiary ruling was prejudicial.  Id.



            Under Minn. R. Evid. 608(b), a party may not attack a witness’s credibility by introducing extrinsic evidence of a specific instance of conduct.  Rather, counsel may inquire into such conduct during cross-examination of the witness, “in the discretion of the court, if probative of truthfulness or untruthfulness.”  Minn. R. Evid. 608(b).  Rule 608(b), however, does not bar the use of extrinsic evidence to prove a witness’s bias, prejudice, or interest against a party to the case.  Minn. R. Evid. 616.  But the court may exclude the evidence if the prejudicial effect of the evidence substantially outweighs its probative value.  Minn. R. Evid. 403.

            Here, both parties agree that Ryan Fulton (Fulton) owed David Loomis (Loomis) money and that appellant went to Loomis’s apartment to discuss the debt.  At trial, Loomis testified that he lent Fulton money to help him pay for his fines, car maintenance, and travel costs.  Appellant’s counsel subsequently sought to introduce testimony from Fulton that Loomis lent Fulton the money as part of a marijuana enterprise.  Appellant’s counsel argued that the testimony was admissible to attack Loomis’s credibility.  But the district court precluded the testimony in part because it determined that the testimony was more prejudicial than probative and because appellant’s counsel did not confront Loomis about the matter during cross-examination.

            Appellant now argues that the district court abused its discretion by precluding Fulton’s testimony because the testimony was evidence of Loomis’s bias against appellant for helping Fulton.  But at trial, appellant did not argue that the testimony was admissible to prove bias under Minn. R. Evid. 616.  And this court generally may not consider arguments not argued and considered in the district court.  Roby v. State, 547 N.W.2d 354, 357 (Minn. 1996).

            Furthermore, we conclude that the testimony was not admissible under rules 403 and 616 because the record supports the district court’s determination that the testimony’s prejudicial effects substantially outweighed its probative value.  Under Minn. R. Evid. 616, counsel may use extrinsic evidence only to prove a witness’s bias against a party to the case.  But here, Fulton’s testimony regarding the marijuana enterprise provided minimal probative value of Loomis’s bias against appellant.  Appellant did not owe Loomis any money.  Rather, appellant was merely acquainted with Fulton, and Loomis did not meet appellant until July 16, 2004, the day that appellant was present at Loomis’s apartment.  Thus, we conclude that the district court did not abuse its discretion by precluding Fulton’s testimony regarding the marijuana enterprise.



            Evidence of other crimes or bad acts is characterized as “Spreigl evidence.”  State v. Kennedy, 585 N.W.2d 385, 389 (Minn. 1998).  Generally, Spreigl evidence is not admissible to prove that a criminal defendant acted in conformity with his character.  Minn. R. Evid. 404(b); State v. Spreigl, 272 Minn. 488, 490, 495-96, 139 N.W.2d 167, 169, 171-72 (1965).  But the evidence may be admissible to prove motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity, or absence of mistake or accident.  Minn. R. Evid. 404(b); Spreigl, 272 Minn. at 491, 139 N.W.2d at 169. 

            Before admitting Spreigl evidence, the district court must first determine that (1) the state gave notice of its intent to admit the evidence; (2) the state clearly indicated what it would offer the evidence to prove; (3) the state offered clear and convincing evidence that the defendant participated in the prior act; (4) the evidence is relevant and material to the state’s case; and (5) the evidence’s potential to prejudice the defendant did not outweigh the probative value of the evidence.  Angus v. State, 695 N.W.2d 109, 119 (Minn. 2005). 

            When balancing the probative value of the evidence against the potential for unfair prejudice, the district court must consider how necessary the Spreigl evidence is to the state’s case.  Kennedy, 585 N.W.2d at 391.  “Only if the other evidence is weak or inadequate, and the Spreigl evidence is needed as support for the state’s burden of proof, should the [district] court admit the Spreigl evidence.”  Id. at 391-92 (quotation omitted).  “‘Need’ for other-crime evidence is not necessarily the absence of sufficient other evidence to convict[.] . . . [T]he evidence of other offenses may be needed because, as a practical matter, it is not clear that the jury will believe the state’s other evidence bearing on the disputed issue.”  Angus, 695 N.W.2d at 120 (quotation omitted).  “When it is unclear whether Spreigl evidence is admissible, the benefit of the doubt should be given to the defendant and the evidence should be excluded.”  Kennedy, 585 N.W.2d at 389.

            Here, the district court admitted evidence of appellant’s 1995 attempted burglary conviction and his 2004 theft conviction for purposes of showing appellant’s motive and intent.  Appellant argues that the district court abused its discretion by admitting evidence of the prior convictions because the evidence’s prejudicial effects outweighed its probative value.  We disagree.

            At trial, both parties acknowledged that appellant was present at Loomis’s apartment, that appellant ran from Loomis, and that the police later found appellant hiding in bushes.  But the parties disputed whether appellant entered Loomis’s apartment with the intent to commit a crime and whether appellant stole Loomis’s property.

            When the police found appellant, he was carrying money and jewelry.  Loomis testified that the items were his, but appellant testified that he brought the items to Loomis’s residence.  Appellant explained that he won the money while playing poker and that he was carrying the jewelry because his fiancée had asked him to pawn it that day and to use the proceeds to pay for her medical bills.  Appellant’s neighbor also testified that appellant planned to take jewelry to a pawn shop. 

            Based on the witnesses’ conflicting testimony, the evidence did not conclusively prove that appellant entered Loomis’s apartment with the intent to steal Loomis’s property.  Therefore, the district court did not abuse its discretion in determining that the Spreigl evidence was necessary to establish appellant’s intent.  Furthermore, the court read a cautionary instruction immediately before the state introduced evidence of the prior acts and again at the conclusion of trial, thereby reducing the probability that the jury would give the evidence undue weight.  See id. at 392 (stating that a cautionary instruction reduces the probability of prejudicing the defendant).  Thus, we conclude that the district court did not abuse its discretion by admitting evidence of appellant’s prior convictions because the Spreigl evidence’s potential to prejudice appellant did not substantially outweigh the evidence’s probative value.