This opinion will be unpublished and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
Ramsey County District Court
File No. K6-04-3591
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 1800 Bremer Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101-2134; and
Susan Gaertner, Ramsey County Attorney, Patrick J. Swift, Assistant County Attorney, Suite 315, 50 West Kellogg Boulevard, St. Paul, MN 55102 (for respondent)
John M. Stuart,
State Public Defender, Susan J. Andrews, Assistant Public Defender,
Considered and decided by Toussaint, Chief Judge; Halbrooks, Judge; and Minge, Judge.
Appellant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to support his conviction of committing a crime for the benefit of a gang. Because the evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the conviction, is sufficient to support the conviction, we affirm.
Appellant Sylvester Townsend was convicted by a jury of theft of a motor vehicle committed for the benefit of a gang, a violation of Minn. Stat. §§ 609.52, subd. 2(17), .229, subd. 2 (2004). The district court imposed a 25-month sentence. Appellant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his conviction.
September 12, 2004, a black 1996 Impala SS was stolen in
That evening, appellant drove the stolen Impala to pick up his friend, Renaldo McDaniel, at his mother’s house. Appellant was also accompanied by his brother, Edward, and another brother, Jermaine Townsend. McDaniel then drove all four to The Warehouse in the stolen Impala. Meanwhile, Reuvers and other officers conducted surveillance at The Warehouse, waiting for the Impala to arrive. When it drove up, police surrounded the car with guns drawn and arrested appellant, Edward, Jermaine, and McDaniel. A search of the vehicle yielded a .32 caliber automatic handgun and ammunition. Appellant admitted that he drove the car to McDaniel’s house but denied knowing that it was stolen.
At trial, McDaniel testified that he knew the vehicle was stolen because it was too nice to be owned by appellant or his brothers, none of whom had a job. In addition, McDaniel testified at trial that he, Edward, and Jermaine were members of the Gangster Disciples gang and that appellant was also a member because of his affiliation with the others: “If you’re in the element of hanging around gang members, doing gang member activities, doing stuff that gang members do, you’re a gang member. . . . There’s no such thing as gang wannabees. Either you is or you ain’t.” The parties stipulated that Edward and Jermaine Townsend were members of the Gangster Disciples gang, and that Gangster Disciples is a criminal gang as defined by Minn. Stat. § 609.229, subd. 1 (2004). The jury convicted appellant of committing a crime for the benefit of a gang.
issue in this case is whether the evidence is sufficient to prove that
appellant committed a crime for the benefit of a gang. 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 (
convicted of a crime for the benefit of a gang allows the district court to
enhance a defendant’s sentence. See Minn. Stat. § 609.229, subd. 3
(2004). This constitutes a substantive
offense, State v. Chuon, 596 N.W.2d
267, 270 (Minn. App. 1999), review denied
(Minn. Aug. 25, 1999), but an underlying crime is a necessary element of the offense,
Minn. Stat. § 609.229, subd. 2. If
convicted, the statutory maximum sentence for a felony is five years longer
than the maximum sentence for the underlying crime.
Appellant’s charged offense consisted of three elements. First, the state had to prove that appellant committed the theft of a motor vehicle. Appellant concedes that the evidence supported a conviction on this element. Second, the state had to prove that appellant’s actions were motivated by involvement with a criminal gang. The parties stipulated that Gangster Disciples is a criminal gang and that appellant’s brothers were gang members. Appellant also concedes that the jury could have inferred from McDaniel’s testimony that appellant was motivated to commit the theft crime because of involvement with a criminal gang.
Finally, the state had to prove that appellant acted with intent to further criminal conduct of gang members. As the district court instructed the jury, the intent element is satisfied if appellant “acted with intent to promote, further or assist in criminal conduct by gang members.” See Minn. Stat. § 609.229, subd. 2. It is only the sufficiency of the evidence on this element of the charged offense that appellant challenges.
conviction will stand if there is sufficient evidence to prove that he intended
to further the criminal act of theft of a motor vehicle. “Intent must generally be proved by inferences from
the defendant’s conduct and the surrounding circumstances.” Chuon,
596 N.W.2d at 271 (holding that a single shot to the victim’s torso was
sufficient to support a finding that appellant acted with intent to kill). Intent is a subjective state of mind “proved
through a defendant’s conduct in the given circumstance.” State
v. Lopez-Rios, 669 N.W.2d 603, 615 (
of a motor vehicle is a continuing crime.
Here, given the gang association, appellant furthered this crime when he
drove the vehicle to transport other gang members. The crime furthered by the appellant’s
actions does not need to be a separate offense from the underlying crime. See, e.g., State v. Blanche, 696
N.W.2d 351, 360 (
Finally, appellant’s intent to further the criminal conduct of a gang is evidenced by the reasonable inferences drawn from the surrounding circumstances. See State v. Pendleton, 706 N.W.2d 500, 511 (Minn. 2005) (finding sufficient evidence where the appellant, dressed in gang attire, stepped out of a vehicle’s rear passenger door with a long rifle and admitted to being present when the victim was killed, although denying he had intent to kill the victim); State v. Henderson, 620 N.W.2d 688, 705 (Minn. 2001) (finding sufficient evidence because, if believed by the jury, evidence demonstrated that appellant was a gang member who killed another gang member in retaliation for his collusion with the police, even though no witnesses actually saw appellant kill the victim). The evidence and all reasonable, related inferences are sufficient to support appellant’s conviction.