This opinion will be unpublished and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
State of Minnesota,
Jacob John Friedrichs,
Nicollet County District Court
File No. 52-K3-04-000079
John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Sean M. McGuire, Assistant State Public Defender, 2221 University Avenue Southeast, Suite 425, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant)
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, Tibor M. Gallo, Assistant Attorney General, 1800 Bremer Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101; and
Michael K. Riley, Sr., Nicollet County Attorney, 326 South Minnesota Avenue, St. Peter, MN 56082-0360 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Wright, Presiding Judge; Halbrooks, Judge; and Ross, Judge.
In this appeal from convictions of multiple controlled-substance offenses, appellant argues that (1) the district court abused its discretion by denying his motion for a mistrial and granting only a one-week continuance after the state failed to produce a tape-recorded statement made by a key prosecution witness until the second day of trial; (2) the district court abused its discretion by admitting Spreigl evidence without conducting an analysis of each relevant factor; and (3) there was insufficient evidence to support the guilty verdicts. We affirm.
Appellant Jacob Friedrichs was convicted of first-degree manufacture of methamphetamine, attempted first-degree manufacture of methamphetamine, possession of a controlled substance, and first-degree possession of methamphetamine precursor chemicals based on the events of September 21, 2003.
In the early morning hours of September 21, a paid confidential informant (CI) for the Minnesota River Valley Drug Task Force spoke with Chief Deputy Karl Jensen and Deputy Thor Nelson of the Nicollet County Sheriff’s Department and reported the following events: on the evening of September 20, the CI accompanied Friedrichs to the St. Peter Holiday gas station where Friedrichs purchased Coleman camping fuel and gave the CI money to buy coffee filters. The CI then drove Friedrichs to an abandoned farm where the CI observed Friedrichs engage in activity consistent with the manufacture of methamphetamine. When Friedrichs finished, he and the CI drove to an apartment in St. Peter. The CI advised the police that she was going to drive Friedrichs back to the farm later that morning to manufacture more methamphetamine.
At approximately 3:30 a.m., Deputy Jensen drove the CI to the entrance of the farm to determine its location. Shortly after 4:30 a.m., the CI picked up Friedrichs from the apartment, and Deputy Jensen followed. Deputy Steve Hlavac and Deputy Nelson went to the vicinity of the abandoned farm. Deputy Jensen lost sight of the CI’s vehicle as it left St. Peter until the vehicle got closer to the farm. Deputies Jensen, Hlavac, and Nelson entered the farm and, upon arriving at the CI’s vehicle, asked the CI where Friedrichs had gone. The CI directed them to the north of the farm. Deputy Nelson heard a crashing sound from that direction, which he believed was a person running through the woods. Deputies Nelson and Hlavac searched for Friedrichs in this area to no avail.
The CI advised that Friedrichs fled with a thermos container. During the course of the investigation a thermos containing methamphetamine was found in the wooded area north of the farm. Other ingredients and apparatuses used to make methamphetamine also were found in the vicinity of the farm.
On February 4, 2004, Friedrichs was charged with first-degree manufacture of methamphetamine, a violation of Minn. Stat. § 152.021, subd. 2a(a) (Supp. 2003); attempted first-degree manufacture of methamphetamine, a violation of Minn. Stat. §§ 152.021, subd 2a(a), 609.17, subds. 1, 4 (2002); possession of a controlled substance, a violation of Minn. Stat. §§ 152.025, subds. 2(1), 3(b), .02, subd. 4(1) (2002); and first-degree attempted manufacture of methamphetamine (possession of methamphetamine precursor chemicals), a violation of Minn. Stat. § 152.021, subds. 2a(b), 3(b) (Supp. 2003).
While Friedrichs was in custody on these charges, Jeremy Segal, who was incarcerated on an unrelated matter, was placed in a holding cell with Friedrichs for approximately 30 hours. Friedrichs made several statements to Segal regarding the pending charges against Friedrichs and prior incidents when Friedrichs fled and possessed methamphetamine. In an interview with Investigator Olson, Segal gave a tape-recorded statement regarding his conversations with Friedrichs. Investigator Olson prepared a summary of Segal’s statement. During discovery, the state provided the summary to Friedrichs’s counsel without also providing a copy of the tape recording.
In the preliminary trial proceedings, Friedrichs moved to exclude Segal’s testimony regarding Friedrichs’s prior bad acts, including fleeing arrest and possessing methamphetamine, arguing that notice had not been provided for this Spreigl or Minn. R. Evid. 404(b) evidence. The district court ruled that Segal would be permitted to testify about the instant offense and Friedrichs’s “chemical history.” But the district court advised that testimony amounting to Friedrichs’s “braggadocio” would not be admissible.
On the second day of trial, the state provided Friedrichs with a tape recording of Segal’s statement to police. Because of the late disclosure, Friedrichs moved for a mistrial or a lengthy continuance to permit further investigation and preparation. The district court granted a one-week continuance.
At trial, the state called several law enforcement witnesses, the CI, and Segal. The CI testified that she works as an informant for the drug task force, and she recounted her activities with Friedrichs on the evening of September 20 and the early morning of September 21. Segal testified about Friedrichs’s statements regarding the pending charges and Friedrichs’s prior incidents of fleeing arrest and possessing methamphetamine. Segal also denied receiving anything in exchange for his testimony. But he indicated that it was in his “best interest” to testify.
During Friedrichs’s testimony, he denied committing the charged offenses. Specifically, he denied an intent to use the Coleman fuel that he purchased to manufacture methamphetamine, denied being present at the abandoned farm when the deputies arrived and spoke with the CI, and denied fleeing police or discarding a thermos. Friedrichs admitted that he had pleaded guilty to two offenses, possession of a small amount of methamphetamine and fleeing the police on April 29, 2003, which was the same incident that Segal referred to in his testimony.
The jury found Friedrichs guilty on all counts. This appeal followed.
D E C I S I O N
Friedrichs argues that the
district court abused its discretion by denying his motion for a mistrial or a
longer continuance because of the state’s failure to produce evidence in
violation of the discovery rules. A district
court has broad discretion in determining the appropriate sanction for a discovery
violation. State v. Patterson, 587 N.W.2d 45, 50 (
Relevant factors for the district court’s consideration in determining the appropriate sanction for a discovery violation include the reason the evidence was not produced, the extent of prejudice, and the feasibility of rectifying the prejudice by a continuance. State v. Lindsey, 284 N.W.2d 368, 373 (Minn. 1979); see also State v. McNeil, 658 N.W.2d 228, 234 (Minn. App. 2003) (affirming district court’s decision to deny motions for mistrial and continuance and allow defendant time to obtain an expert witness but requiring trial to proceed as scheduled). “Despite the trial court’s broad discretion, preclusion of evidence is a severe sanction which should not be lightly invoked.” Patterson, 587 N.W.2d at 50 (quotation omitted).
Here, the evidence at issue was the tape recording of Investigator Olson’s interview with Segal regarding Segal’s conversations with Friedrichs while sharing a holding cell. The state provided Friedrichs’s counsel a summary of the interview shortly after it occurred, but the state did not supply the tape recording until the second day of trial.
Friedrichs fails to establish that the district court abused its discretion by granting a one-week continuance. There are no material differences between the interview summary provided well in advance of trial and the tape recording of the interview. A comparison of the summary with the tape recording demonstrates that any differences are minute and, for purposes of impeaching Segal, the differences between the tape recording and the summary are not meaningful. For example, on the tape recording, Segal advises Investigator Olson that Friedrichs described a cousin and said that the cousin was raised by his grandmother. Indeed, this information was not included in the interview summary; but because it is not relevant to the charges at issue, this omission, like others that occurred, do not warrant a longer continuance than granted to ensure a fair trial.
Friedrichs fails to demonstrate how he was prejudiced by the length of the continuance. He has not identified witnesses that he was unable to call or information that he was unable to use to impeach Segal’s credibility or to otherwise affect the trial’s outcome. The record establishes that Friedrichs’s counsel conducted a lengthy cross-examination of Segal, during which he attacked Segal’s credibility and refuted portions of Segal’s statement. For example, Segal was thoroughly cross-examined regarding Segal’s arrest for a drug offense and motivation to testify against Friedrichs, whether the basis of Segal’s knowledge about Friedrichs’s case was the complaint and other documents located in the holding cell, and inconsistencies between Segal’s account and facts relating to Friedrichs’s earlier flight from officers and his arrest for the instant offense.
Concerned that a longer continuance might result in the loss of jurors and other complications because jeopardy had attached, the district court weighed its options and granted a one-week continuance. Nothing in the record supports a conclusion that the continuance granted was insufficient to permit Friedrichs’s adequate preparation for trial. Accordingly, the district court’s exercise of its discretion was sound.
Friedrichs also asserts that the
district court abused its discretion and committed prejudicial error by
admitting Spreigl evidence of other
bad acts. “Evidentiary rulings rest
within the sound discretion of the trial court and will not be reversed absent
a clear abuse of discretion. On appeal,
the appellant has the burden of establishing that the trial court abused its
discretion and that appellant was thereby prejudiced.” State
v. Amos, 658 N.W.2d 201, 203 (
Evidence of prior bad acts is “not
admissible to prove the character of a person in order to show action in
issue is Segal’s testimony during the state’s case-in-chief that Friedrichs
“described an incident in which he was . . . arrested for fleeing [police] on a
motorcycle” while in possession of some “cylinders” and a small amount of
argues that the Spreigl evidence was
erroneously admitted because the state failed to provide adequate notice of its
intention to present Spreigl evidence
and its purpose for doing so. The Spreigl notice requirement has been
incorporated into Minn. R. Crim. P. 7.02.
The prosecuting attorney shall notify the defendant or defense counsel in writing of any additional offenses, the evidence of which may be offered at the trial under any exceptions to the general exclusionary rule. . . . The notice need not include offenses for which the defendant has been previously prosecuted or those that may be offered in rebuttal of the defendant’s character witnesses or as a part of the occurrence or episode out of which the offense charged against defendant arose.
The unique procedural history of the Spreigl issue in this case warrants a brief discussion in order to properly address the district court’s ruling. Before trial, Friedrichs filed a motion in limine to preclude, among other evidence, Segal’s testimony regarding Friedrichs’s prior flight from police while possessing methamphetamine because the state had failed to provide notice of its intent to use this Spreigl evidence. The state disputed the characterization of this testimony as Spreigl evidence but argued that it was nevertheless admissible. The district court ruled the evidence admissible after concluding that its probative value was not outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice. On the third day of trial, the state reversed its position as to whether the evidence in question was Spreigl evidence and tendered a written Spreigl notice of the evidence that previously had been ruled admissible.
Minnesota Rule of Evidence 7.02 provides that prior offenses for which a defendant has been prosecuted do not require notice. The Spreigl evidence at issue here refers to an incident for which Friedrichs was prosecuted prior to the instant offense. Thus, the state was not required to give notice under rule 7.02. Moreover, Friedrichs had received a summary of Segal’s statement to police regarding his conversations with Friedrichs. And, as discussed above, the one-week continuance gave Friedrichs additional time to prepare for this evidence. Thus, the record demonstrates that Friedrichs had adequate time to prepare for the Spreigl evidence admitted through Segal’s testimony.
district court did not make an explicit determination on the record that
Friedrichs’s participation in this offense was established by clear and
convincing evidence. But Friedrichs’s
convictions of fleeing the police in a motor vehicle and fifth-degree
possession of a controlled substance as a result of this incident satisfy the
See State v. Blom, 682 N.W.2d
578, 601 (
The district court ruled that Friedrichs’s
prior conviction of possession of methamphetamine was relevant and
material. “In order to be relevant and material, the Spreigl offense should be similar to the charged offense either in
time, location, or modus operandi.” DeWald,
464 N.W.2d at 503; accord State v. Filippi,
335 N.W.2d 739, 743 (
Even if Spreigl evidence is relevant, it may not be introduced if its probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice. Ness, 707 N.W.2d at 685 (citing Minn. R. Evid. 403). “The prosecution’s need for other-acts evidence should be addressed in balancing probative value against potential prejudice, not as an independent necessity requirement.” Id.
Here, the district court ruled prior to the state’s case-in-chief that the probative value of the chemical-history evidence was not outweighed by the potential for unfair prejudice. Without referring to this aspect of Segal’s testimony as “Spreigl evidence,” the district court weighed the probative value of the proffered evidence against the potential for unfair prejudice before limiting the admissible evidence to testimony about the instant offense and Friedrichs’s prior chemical history. Given the nature of the instant offense, we agree with the district court’s assessment that the probative value of the Spreigl evidence is strong and not outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice.
Because the decision to admit the Spreigl evidence was proper, the
district court’s failure to analyze each Spreigl
requirement before ruling the evidence admissible was harmless error. See
Wanglie v. State, 398 N.W.2d 54, 57-58 (
Friedrichs argues that there is insufficient
evidence to support the verdicts and urges us to depart from the existing legal
standard and require corroboration of informant testimony. In considering a claim of insufficient
evidence, our review is limited to a painstaking analysis of the record to
determine whether the evidence, when viewed in the light most favorable to the
conviction, is sufficient to allow the jurors to reach a guilty verdict. State
v. Webb, 440 N.W.2d 426, 430 (
asserts that the evidence is insufficient because the state’s case rested on
the credibility of “[the CI,] a paid informant and [Segal,] a jailhouse snitch
looking to get a break from the state.” But
“a conviction may rest on the testimony of a single credible witness.” State
v. Miles, 585 N.W.2d 368, 373 (
Contrary to Friedrichs’s assertion, the record reflects ample evidence to support the guilty verdicts. The CI testified that Friedrichs gave her money to buy coffee filters used in the manufacture of methamphetamine. She also described Friedrichs engaging in activity consistent with the manufacture of methamphetamine. Still photographs taken from a surveillance videotape from the Holiday gas station corroborated the CI’s testimony, showing the CI and Friedrichs purchasing coffee filters and Coleman fuel. Testimony from law enforcement officers engaged in surveillance corroborated Friedrichs’s and the CI’s purchases and travel that evening. Deputy Nelson testified that, upon arriving at the farm and asking the CI about Friedrichs’s whereabouts, the CI directed them to the north where Deputy Nelson heard a crashing sound that resembled the sound of a person running through the woods. Investigators also testified that they retrieved a thermos container in the wooded area to the north of the farm in which a powder later identified as 1.4 grams of a substance containing methamphetamine was found. Ingredients and apparatuses used to make methamphetamine, including Coleman fuel, a jar, blue tubing attached to the thermos, and coffee filters, were also seized from the farm.
In addition, Segal testified that, during a conversation while detained with Friedrichs, Friedrichs admitted that he produced methamphetamine but predicted that he would be acquitted because the police lacked sufficient evidence. Segal’s testimony included a description of a long, narrow driveway on a farm where Friedrichs produced the methamphetamine.
To counter the weight of the physical
and testimonial evidence, Friedrichs invites us to create new law by holding
that informant testimony must be corroborated.
We decline to accept this invitation.
Minnesota has not adopted a corroboration requirement for an informant’s
testimony, and determining the propriety of adopting such a requirement is
appropriately reserved for the Minnesota Supreme Court. See Northfield Ins. Co. v.
St. Paul Surplus Lines Ins. Co., 545 N.W.2d 57, 62 (Minn. App. 1996) (“The