This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

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






State of Minnesota,





Armando Molina Alvarez,



Filed September 5, 2006


Kalitowski, Judge


Freeborn County District Court

File No. KX-04-629


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


Craig S. Nelson, Freeborn County Attorney, Courthouse, 411 South Broadway, Albert Lea, MN 56007 (for respondent)


John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Lydia Villalva Lijó, Assistant Public Defender, 2221 University Avenue Southeast, Suite 425, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant)


            Considered and decided by Kalitowski, Presiding Judge; Randall, Judge; and Peterson, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


On appeal from his conviction of second-degree controlled substance offense, appellant Armando Molina Alvarez argues that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction.  We affirm.


When considering a claim of insufficient evidence, this court’s review is limited to a careful assessment of the record to determine whether “a jury could reasonably find the defendant guilty, given the facts in evidence and the legitimate inferences which could be drawn from those facts.”  State v. Robinson, 604 N.W.2d 355, 365-66 (Minn. 2000) (quotation omitted).  When reviewing the record, this court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to a conviction.  State v. Moore, 438 N.W.2d 101, 108 (Minn. 1989).  Determining the weight and credibility of witness testimony is a matter for the jury.  Id.  We must assume that “the jury believed the state’s witnesses and disbelieved any evidence to the contrary.”  Id.

Here, appellant sold an informant cocaine during a controlled buy supervised by Freeborn County Deputy Corey Farris.  Appellant argues that because Farris did not use adequate controlled-buy safeguards to corroborate the informant’s information, the evidence was insufficient to support the jury’s verdict.  In support of his argument, appellant maintains that Farris failed to search the informant prior to the drug purchase.  But Farris explained that he did not search the informant before the buy because she was returning to her home, where the buy would occur.  Moreover, under Minnesota law, only accomplice testimony must be corroborated.  See Minn. Stat. § 634.04 (2002) (“A conviction cannot be had upon the testimony of an accomplice, unless it is corroborated by such other evidence as tends to convict the defendant of the commission of the offense[.]”).  Minnesota law does not require testimony from other informants to be corroborated.  Thus, the informant’s testimony did not require corroboration. 

Appellant also argues that the evidence was insufficient to convict him because the informant’s testimony was of “questionable reliability.”  Appellant argues that the informant’s testimony was not credible because she received compensation for working as an informant for the police.  But “weighing the credibility of witnesses is the exclusive function of the jury.”  State v. Pieschke, 295 N.W.2d 580, 584 (Minn. 1980).  And here, the jury heard the informant explain and Farris confirm that the informant received $100 for her participation in each successful controlled buy and that she received $100 for the controlled buy in this case.  Under the applicable standard of review, we must assume that the jury believed the informant despite the fact that Farris did not apply every safeguard of the controlled-buy procedure and that the informant had monetary motivation to participate in the buy.  See Moore, 438 N.W.2d at 108 (stating that we assume that “the jury believed the state’s witnesses and disbelieved any evidence to the contrary”); see also State v. Miles, 585 N.W.2d 368, 373 (Minn. 1998) (stating that “[t]he jury determines the weight and credibility of individual witnesses”). 

Additionally, appellant relies on an unpublished opinion to argue that failure to implement safeguards of a controlled buy constitutes grounds for reversing his conviction.  But appellant’s reliance on unpublished authority is not a persuasive argument for this court.  See Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3(c) (2004) (“Unpublished opinions of the Court of Appeals are not precedential.”); Vlahos v. R&I Constr. of Bloomington, Inc., 676 N.W.2d 672, 676 n.3 (Minn. 2004) (stating district court erred “both as a matter of law and as a matter of practice” by relying on an unpublished opinion). 

“A person is guilty of controlled substance crime in the second degree if:  (1) on one or more occasions within a 90-day period the person unlawfully sells one or more mixtures of a total weight of three grams or more containing cocaine[.]”  Minn. Stat. § 152.022, subd. 1(1) (2002).  Here, the evidence indicates that (1) Farris had used the informant approximately 20 times, finding her honest and straightforward; (2) in late May 2004, the informant called a man she knew as “Armando” and indicated that she wanted to buy an “eight-ball” from him; (3) the informant notified Farris that the man would come to her house, possibly in a black car; (4) Farris set up the controlled buy on June 1, 2004, providing the informant a digital recorder to wear during the transaction; (4) shortly thereafter, Farris watched a man he identified as appellant arrive at  informant’s residence in a black car; (5) the informant identified appellant as the man who entered her house and sold her four baggies of powder; (6) the phrase “eight-ball” is discernable on the recording of the sale; and (7) the bags contained a total of 4.5 grams of cocaine.  Viewing this evidence in the light most favorable to the conviction, we conclude that the evidence was sufficient to support appellant’s conviction of second-degree controlled substance crime.