This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

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






State of Minnesota,





Jon Joseph Yilek,




Filed September 5, 2006

Parker, Judge


Benton County District Court

File No. K7-03-215



Mike Hatch, Attorney General, Kathryn M. Woodruff, Assistant Attorney General, 1200 Bremer Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN  55101-2130; and


Robert J. Raupp, Benton County Attorney, Benton County Courts Facility, 615 Highway 23, Foley, MN  56329 (for respondent)


John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Rochelle R. Winn, Assistant State Public Defender, 2221 University Avenue Southeast, Suite 425, Minneapolis, MN  55414 (for appellant)


            Considered and decided by Dietzen, Presiding Judge; Stoneburner, Judge; and Parker, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


            Appellant Jon Joseph Yilek challenges his conviction for aiding and abetting the manufacture of methamphetamine, which is a first-degree controlled-substance crime under Minn. Stat. § 152.021, subd. 2a (2002).  Appellant challenges the district court’s discretion to admit certain Spreigl evidence and the sufficiency of the evidence to support the verdict.

            Because the Spreigl evidence was relevant and material, more probative than prejudicial, and supported by clear and convincing evidence, we conclude that the district court did not abuse discretion by admitting the evidence.  We further conclude that the evidence is sufficient to sustain appellant’s conviction of aiding and abetting the manufacture of methamphetamine.  We affirm appellant’s conviction.


            Spreigl Evidence

            The district court’s decision to admit evidence of other crimes or wrongful acts (Spreigl evidence) will not be overturned absent a clear abuse of discretion.  State v. Robinson, 604 N.W.2d 355, 363 (Minn. 2000); see State v. Spreigl, 272 Minn. 488, 139 N.W.2d 167 (1965).  In making a determination, the district court must find (1) clear and convincing evidence that the accused participated in the Spreigl offense; (2) the evidence is relevant and material; and (3) the probative value of the evidence outweighs its potential for unfair prejudice.  Robinson, 604 N.W.2d at 363.

            The standard for clear and convincing evidence is more stringent than a preponderance of the evidence, but less stringent than proof beyond a reasonable doubt; the truth of the facts sought to be admitted must be “highly probable.”  State v. Stewart, 643 N.W.2d 281, 297 (Minn. 2002) (quotation omitted).  The Spreigl offense need not predate the charged offense.  See, e.g.,  Robinson, 604 N.W.2dat 360; State v. Lynch, 590 N.W.2d 75, 78-79 (Minn. 1999); State v. Kennedy, 585 N.W.2d 385, 388 (Minn. 1998).

            Evidence is relevant and material if, in light of the issues in the case, there is a need for the evidence because of weakness in the state’s case and there is a sufficiently close relationship between the charged offense and the Spreigl offense in time, place, or modus operandi.  Kennedy, 585 N.W.2d at 390. 

            “When balancing the probative value of Spreigl evidence against the potential for unfair prejudice, the trial court must consider how necessary the Spreigl evidence is to the state’s case.”  Lynch, 590 N.W.2d at 81.  Such evidence is admissible only if the district court finds that the state’s case is inadequate or weak, and the Spreigl evidence is necessary to support some element of the state’s case.  Id.  “It should be excluded where it is merely cumulative and a subterfuge for impugning defendant’s character or for indicating to the jury that he is a proper candidate for punishment.”  Id. (quotation omitted). 

            In order to analyze whether the district court properly admitted the Spreigl evidence, we must begin with the charged offense.  Appellant was charged with aiding and abetting the manufacture of methamphetamine (meth).  Manufacture of any amount of meth is a first-degree controlled-substance crime.  Minn. Stat. § 152.021, subd. 2a.  “A person is criminally liable for a crime committed by another if the person intentionally aids, advises, hires, counsels, or conspires with or otherwise procures the other to commit the crime.”  Minn. Stat. § 609.05, subd. 1 (2002).  “Aiding and abetting” requires the state to show that the accused played “some knowing role” in the commission of the crime.  State v. Ostrem, 535 N.W.2d 916, 924 (Minn. 1995) (quotation omitted).  It involves more than mere presence at the scene of a crime, “because inaction, knowledge, or passive acquiescence does not rise to the level of criminal culpability.”  Id.  But active participation is not required, and a person’s “presence, companionship, and conduct before and after an offense are relevant circumstances from which a person’s criminal intent may be inferred.”  Id.  Thus, the state was required to prove that appellant played a knowing role in advancing the manufacture of meth.

            The district court concluded that the state’s case was weak as far as tying appellant to the manufacture of meth.  The evidence that someone was manufacturing meth at the searched premises was fairly strong, based on the presence of most of the precursor elements.   The district court noted that status as a meth user tends to provide a motive for manufacturing meth.  The Spreigl evidence included statements from appellant that (1) he was a meth user; (2) he associated with people who manufacture meth; and (3) he had purchased five to ten boxes of nasal decongestant over the last couple of years, some for his personal use, but some he had purchased for others.  These statements provided a motive for appellant’s participation in meth manufacture, as well as support for appellant’s usual modus operandi, which involved purchase of pseudoephedrine pills for others to use.

            The district court considered the appropriate factors before admitting the Spreigl evidence:  the evidence of the Spreigl offense was clear and convincing and was closely related in time and type of offense, and the state’s case against appellant was weak.  We conclude therefore that the district court did not abuse discretion by admitting the Spreigl evidence.

            Sufficiency of the Evidence

            To determine if the evidence is sufficient to sustain the verdict, this court reviews it in a light most favorable to the jury’s verdict and assumes that the jury disbelieved any contrary evidence.  State v. Rhodes, 657 N.W.2d 823, 840 (Minn. 2003).  A verdict may be based on circumstantial evidence alone, but “[a] conviction based on circumstantial evidence alone will only be upheld if the reasonable inferences drawn from the evidence are inconsistent with any rational hypothesis except that of the defendant’s guilt.”  Id. (quotation omitted).  Because of the deference paid a jury’s verdict, “possibilities of innocence do not require reversal of a jury verdict so long as the evidence taken as a whole makes such theories seem unreasonable.”  Id. (quotation omitted).

            Appellant was arrested in Darin Barber’s garage during the execution of a search warrant.  Appellant had been living with Barber for several months before the arrest.  Barber spent the previous week in jail, leaving appellant in charge of the premises.  Daniel Koehn was also present in the garage and regularly spent time with appellant.  The record evidence showed that (1) nearly all elements required to manufacture meth, except for anhydrous ammonia, were present in the garage, the house, or on Koehn’s person or in his car; (2) anhydrous ammonia was suggested by the presence in Koehn’s car of a propane tank that showed signs of such usage; (3) although most of the items recovered from the garage could be used for a legitimate purpose, it could be reasonably inferred that the particular use was for manufacture of meth:  for example, the paper towels smelled of solvent and contained white residue, 21 empty nasal decongestant boxes were found in the garage, the lithium strips had been removed from the batteries, the coffee filters smelled of solvent and contained a white residue, and the aluminum foil was divided into small strips, consistent with use in the meth manufacturing process; (4) the police found 16 grams of meth on Koehn or in the garage; (5) the receipts found in the garage indicated that someone had purchased five boxes of pseudoephedrine within a short period of time on February 3, 2003, and the brand purchased corresponded to some of the 21 empty boxes found in the garage; and (6) appellant stated, as part of the Spreigl evidence, that he hung around with people who “cooked” meth.  This evidence reasonably supports the jury’s conclusion that meth was being manufactured in the garage.

            The videotape of appellant purchasing three boxes of Sudafed at Target, the receipt from Shopko showing a purchase within a few minutes after the Target purchase, the presence in the garage of the Target and Shopko receipts, the empty boxes of Sudafed and Shopko-brand nasal decongestant, and appellant’s admission in the Spreigl testimony that he had purchased pseudoephedrine tablets for others support the jury’s conclusion that he played a knowing role in the manufacture of meth. 

            Viewed in a light most favorable to the verdict, there is sufficient evidence to sustain the verdict; although the evidence is circumstantial, the reasonable inferences drawn from it lead to no rational hypothesis other than guilt.

            Appellant’s Pro Se Issues

            In his pro se brief, appellant asserts that the state engaged in prosecutorial misconduct by failing to introduce evidence favorable to him.  Appellant fails to provide a basis for his claims, which lack merit.


* Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.