This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
State of Minnesota,
Terry L. Olson,
Filed November 14, 2006
Chippewa County District Court
File No. K7-04-571
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, Thomas R. Ragatz, Assistant Attorney General, 1800 Bremer Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101-2134; and
Dwayne N. Knutsen, Chippewa County Attorney, 102 Parkway Drive, P.O. Box 591, Montevideo, MN 56265 (for respondent)
John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Sara L. Martin, Assistant State Public Defender, 2221 University Avenue Southeast, Suite 425, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Lansing, Presiding Judge, Klaphake, Judge, and Halbrooks, Judge.
Appellant Terry L. Olson challenges his conviction for fifth-degree controlled substance offense. Minn. Stat. § 152.025, subd. 2(1) (2004). He argues that the district court abused its discretion by admitting Spreigl testimony and that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his conviction.
Because admission of the Spreigl testimony, although erroneous, was harmless error, and because the evidence was sufficient to show that appellant constructively possessed methamphetamine, we affirm.
of other crimes or bad acts is not admissible to prove the defendant’s
character or that the defendant acted in conformity therewith, but is
admissible for the limited purpose of showing “motive, opportunity, intent,
preparation, plan, knowledge, identity, or absence of mistake or
has established a procedural framework to protect the defendant from misuse of
this evidence. The state is required to
(1) give notice of the evidence it intends to offer; (2) clearly indicate the
purpose for which the evidence is offered; and (3) present clear and convincing
evidence that the defendant participated in the Spreigl offense. State v. Kennedy, 585 N.W.2d 385, 389 (
district court is instructed “not simply [to] take the prosecution’s stated
purposes for the admission of other-acts evidence at face value . . . [but to]
identify the precise disputed fact to which the Spreigl evidence would be relevant.”
Here, the precise disputed fact was whether appellant had constructive possession of methamphetamine. The state’s case on this issue was fairly strong, as shown by the following facts. The methamphetamine was discovered on a table in living quarters where appellant admitted that he was staying. One witness testified that appellant was the sole occupant of the living quarters during the month preceding the search. The methamphetamine was found in a Marlboro cigarette package next to another Marlboro package containing cigarettes. Two witnesses testified that appellant smoked Marlboro cigarettes; one testified that appellant was the only person on the premises who smoked that brand. The two cigarette packages were found next to a cell phone belonging to appellant’s mother. Given the strength of the state’s case on the issue of constructive possession, we believe that the district court abused its discretion in admitting the Spreigl testimony, which consisted of testimony by appellant’s co-defendant that she had seen appellant smoking methamphetamine in that location two days earlier. While marginally probative, this evidence was unfairly prejudicial because it portrayed appellant as a drug user.
even if admission of the testimony was erroneous, a new trial need not be
granted unless there was a “reasonable possibility that the wrongfully admitted
evidence significantly affected the verdict.”
State v. Asfeld, 662 N.W.2d
534, 544 (
Sufficiency of the Evidence
reviewing court views a sufficiency of the evidence claim in the light most
favorable to the verdict. State v. Ostrem, 535 N.W.2d 916, 923 (
[A] conviction based on circumstantial evidence will be upheld and such evidence is entitled to as much weight as any other kind of evidence, so long as a detailed review of the record indicates that the reasonable inferences from such evidence are consistent only with the defendant’s guilt and inconsistent with any rational hypothesis except that of guilt.
already noted, the only issue in dispute was whether appellant had constructive
possession of the methamphetamine found at the place where he was staying. In order to prove constructive possession,
the state must show (1) the contraband substance was in a place under the
defendant’s exclusive control, to which others do not normally have access; or
(2) if others have access, the defendant was at the time consciously or
knowingly exercising dominion and control over the substance question. State
v. Florine, 303
Several witnesses testified that the methamphetamine was found in an area contemporaneously occupied by appellant, next to possessions identified with appellant. Based on the record before us, ample evidence shows that appellant exercised knowing control over, and thus constructively possessed, the methamphetamine.