This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2006).







State of Minnesota,





Donnie Michelle Lake,

aka Donnae Lake,



Filed April 3, 2007


Hudson, Judge


Ramsey County District Court

File No. K7-04-4071


Lori Swanson, Attorney General, 1800 Bremer Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, Minnesota 55101-2134; and


John J. Choi, St. Paul City Attorney, John H. Stechmann, Assistant City Attorney, 500 City Hall and Courthouse, 15 West Kellogg Boulevard, St. Paul, Minnesota 55102 (for respondent)


Mark F. Anderson, Terry P. Duggins, Special Assistant Public Defenders, State Public Defender’s Office, 2221 University Avenue Southeast, Suite 425, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55414 (for appellant)


            Considered and decided by Randall, Presiding Judge; Hudson, Judge; and Dietzen, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


            Appellant Donnie Michelle Lake (a/k/a Donnae Lake) challenges her conviction of gross-misdemeanor fourth-degree assault in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.2231, subd. 1 (2004); gross-misdemeanor obstructing legal process with force in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.50, subd. 1 (2004); and misdemeanor disorderly conduct in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.72 (2004).  Appellant argues that (1) the district court clearly abused its discretion by refusing to admit relevant evidence; (2) her due-process right to present a complete defense was violated because the prosecution committed misconduct by failing to fulfill its discovery obligations; and (3) the district court clearly abused its discretion by admitting Spreigl evidence.  We affirm.


            On July 31, 2004, two St. Paul police officers were on duty at about 1:12 a.m. when they responded to a 911 hang-up call that came from appellant Donnie Michelle Lake’s residence.  Lake lived in the downstairs unit (unit 1) of a St. Paul duplex.  When the officers arrived at the residence, a woman and her two children who lived in the upstairs unit (unit 2) were arriving.  The woman denied making the 911 call, stating that she had just arrived home and that no one was in her unit.  A short time thereafter, the woman alerted the officers to appellant’s voice screaming and swearing from inside the downstairs residence.  The officers were unable to determine whether there was another person inside of the downstairs unit or whether appellant was talking to someone on the phone.  The officers knocked on the door.  Appellant opened the door naked, and then “[s]lammed the door hard enough that the outside of the door knob broke off a little.”  The officers knocked again, explaining to appellant that they were trying to make sure everything was all right.  But appellant continued to scream loudly and to swear.  Officer Lentsch testified that “she was still making comments to another person about look what you did now, the police are here.” 

            About five minutes later, a fully clothed appellant exited using the back door and approached the officers from the front of the residence.  She screamed loudly at them, swore at them, and demanded that they leave the property.  The officers again tried to explain that they were there to make sure everything was all right because a hang-up 911 call was made from her unit.  Officer Lentsch testified that because “[appellant] refused all commands to calm down, to quiet her voice, to come inside the house with us and just show us around to make sure everything was okay,” they arrested her for disorderly conduct. 

After Officer Lentsch entered appellant’s unit to ascertain that there was no one still inside, appellant was driven to the Ramsey County Law Enforcement Center.  Officer Lentsch testified that appellant continued to yell and swear during the car ride, she attempted to kick out the squad’s window, she spat at Officer Lenarz from the back seat, and stated that “she was going to have myself and Officer Lenarz smoked”—Officer Lentsch believed that to mean “[s]hot and killed.”    

            Upon arriving at the detention center, appellant refused to leave the squad car and had to be physically removed.  Appellant attempted to kick Officer Lenarz, and bit Officer Lentsch on his forearm.  Officer Lentsch testified that he “delivered a right knee strike to her right mid-section area, which was effective in getting her mouth off of [his] forearm.”  Officer Lentsch transported appellant inside the detention center using a wrist lock, which involves “basically grabbing on to the back of the hand and pointing it or pushing it towards the forearm area.” 

            As the officers and appellant entered the intake and booking room, Officer Lentsch testified that appellant “was now laughing at this point, stating that she got—got me to do what she wanted and that was [to] kill her baby.”  Officer Lentsch stated at trial that he was certain that he did not learn that appellant was pregnant until after he delivered the knee strike.  Appellant testified that when they were driving to the law-enforcement center she told the officers that she was three months pregnant. 

            As a result of the knee strike, appellant suffered some cramping and vaginal bleeding.  Appellant stated that although she requested to see a nurse, she was not permitted to see one until 5:00 p.m.  The nurse (Patricia McPeak) testified that there was a clot of blood in the toilet and a sanitary napkin with blood.  Nurse McPeak testified that she referred appellant to Regions Hospital for assessment; however, appellant refused to go.  About three days later, appellant went to the emergency room and was diagnosed with a right shoulder strain, multiple contusions, and wrist abrasions.  Appellant’s medical records show that her contusions were the result of trauma and bleeding in the injured area.



            Appellant claims that she acted in self-defense and argues that the district court erred by not allowing appellant to introduce relevant evidence that would have allowed the jurors to draw an inference of mistreatment.  Evidentiary decisions rest within the discretion of the district court and will not be reversed absent a clear abuse of discretion.  State v. Amos, 658 N.W.2d 201, 203 (Minn. 2003).  On appeal, the appellant bears the burden of establishing that the district court abused its discretion and its decision resulted in prejudice.  Id. 

            Under Minnesota law, the elements of self defense are:

(1) the absence of aggression or provocation on the part of the defendant; (2) the defendant’s actual and honest belief that he or she was in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and that the action taken was necessary to avert that danger; (3) the existence of reasonable grounds for that belief; and (4) the absence of a reasonable possibility of retreat to avoid the danger.


State v. McKissic, 415 N.W.2d 341, 344 (Minn. App. 1987); Minn. Stat. § 609.06, subd. 1(3) (authorizing the use of force “when used by any person in resisting or aiding another to resist an offense against the person.”).  Appellant argues that the district court abused its discretion by prohibiting introduction of relevant documents that demonstrated appellant’s condition and treatment after she had been placed in a holding cell at the detention center.  Appellant contends that her “condition and treatment upon being placed in a holding cell and the hours which she spent there have the tendency to make the existence of [a]ppellant’s claim of self-defense more probable than without the evidence” and that the “evidence goes to show a continued pattern of abuse and allows the jurors to draw an inference of mistreatment.”  

Under Minnesota law, “[r]elevant evidence means evidence having any tendency to make the existence of any fact that is of consequence to the determination of the action more probable or less probable than it would be without the evidence.”  Minn. R. Evid. 401.  “If the offered evidence permits an inference to be drawn that will justify a desired finding of fact, it is relevant. . . .  [A]ny evidence is relevant which logically tends to prove or disprove a material fact in issue.”  Boland v. Morrill, 270 Minn. 86, 98–99 (1965).  Evidence is relevant and thus probative if it advances the inquiry in some degree.  State v. Harris, 521 N.W.2d 348, 351 (Minn. 1994). 

Here, the inquiry as to whether appellant was permitted to use such force is not advanced by something that occurred after she employed such force.  Appellant had not yet encountered the detention deputies when she bit Officer Lentsch in the sally port.  Thus, the district court did not clearly abuse its discretion by determining that the alleged mistreatment by the detention deputies did not serve as a legal justification or excuse for appellant’s prior use of force against Officer Lentsch.  The district court did not clearly abuse its discretion by limiting appellant’s defense to the circumstances that occurred before the officers brought appellant into the booking area.

Furthermore, it is not clear exactly what evidence appellant was attempting to introduce.  Respondent notes that aside from her opening statement and reference to appellant’s holding cell during direct examination, “[a]ppellant made no other attempt to introduce evidence of the alleged mistreatment by the detention deputies.” 


Appellant next argues that the prosecution violated her due-process right by failing to fulfill its discovery obligations.  A reviewing court will not overturn the district court’s decision concerning a discovery violation unless there was a clear abuse of discretion.  State v. Bailey, 677 N.W.2d 380, 397 (Minn. 2004).

“Criminal defendants have a broad right to discovery and to prepare and present their defense.”  State v. Paradee, 403 N.W.2d 640, 642 (Minn. 1987).  Under Minnesota law, a prosecutor is required to provide a defendant access to certain evidence:

Without order of court . . . the prosecuting attorney on request of defense counsel shall . . . allow access at any reasonable time to all matters within the prosecuting attorney’s possession or control which relate to the case and make the following disclosures:


            . . . .


            (3) Documents and Tangible Objects.  The prosecuting attorney shall disclose and permit defense counsel to inspect and reproduce books, grand jury minutes or transcripts, law enforcement officer reports, reports on prospective jurors, papers, documents, photographs and tangible objects which relate to the case and the prosecuting attorney shall also permit defense counsel to inspect and photograph buildings or places which relate to the case.


Minn. R. Crim. P. 9.01, subd. 1. 

To demonstrate a due-process violation warranting reversal of a conviction, appellant must show that (1) the state willfully or inadvertently withheld evidence, (2) the evidence was favorable to the defendant, and (3) he or she was prejudiced thereby.  Woodruff v. State, 608 N.W.2d 881, 886 (Minn. 2000). 

Appellant argues that respondent failed to comply in an adequate and timely manner with appellant’s efforts to obtain discovery materials, and therefore, appellant was not afforded a meaningful opportunity to present a complete defense.  Appellant contends that “the blatant refusal by the State relative to Appellant’s efforts to obtain relevant material amounts to prosecutorial misconduct.”  This court will reverse a conviction due to prosecutorial misconduct at trial “only if the misconduct, when considered in light of the whole trial, impaired the defendant’s right to a fair trial.”  State v. Powers, 654 N.W.2d 667, 678 (Minn. 2003).  But from our review of the record, it appears respondent did comply with appellant’s discovery requests.  In addition, the district court painstakingly addressed each of appellant’s discovery concerns at the discovery hearing held on March 29, 2005, and determined that respondent had not committed any discovery violations.  Nevertheless, the district court granted continuances to appellant on three separate occasions, giving appellant ample time to conduct additional discovery.  And, as respondent correctly asserts, “[a]ny unfulfilled discovery demands amounted to a fishing expedition, and the trial court properly exercised its discretion in placing reasonable limits thereon.”  Because respondent did not commit prosecutorial misconduct in the discovery process, the district court did not clearly abuse its discretion in its discovery rulings.


Appellant next argues that the district court abused its discretion by permitting an officer to testify about appellant’s previous disorderly conduct conviction to show intent, common scheme or plan, absence of mistake, or motive.  “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 (Minn. 2003) (citations omitted).  

            Generally, evidence of prior bad acts is “not admissible to prove the character of a person in order to show action in conformity therewith.”  Minn. R. Evid. 404(b).  But evidence of prior bad acts may be admissible as proof of “motive, opportunity, intent preparation, plan, knowledge, identity, or absence of mistake or accident.”  Id.

            The district court may admit Spreigl evidence of other bad acts when:  (1) the state gives notice of its intent to admit the evidence; (2) the state clearly indicates what the evidence will be offered to prove; (3) there is clear and convincing evidence that the defendant participated in the prior act; (4) the evidence is relevant and material to the state’s case; and (5) the probative value of the evidence is not outweighed by its potential prejudice to the defendant.”  State v. Ness, 707 N.W.2d 676, 686 (Minn. 2006). 

            Here, the district court performed a proper Spreigl analysis.  First, the court determined that the state gave proper and timely notice in accordance with rule 7.02 of the Minnesota Rules of Criminal Procedure.  Second, the state indicated that the reason it wanted to introduce the Spreigl evidence was to show a lack of mistake or accident, common scheme or design, intent, and capacity.  Similar to the present incident, the police report of the other disorderly conduct incident indicated that appellant was very uncooperative, that she was yelling and screaming in the back of the squad car, and that she was kicking at the windows of the squad car.  “[T]he greater the similarity of a crime with the crime charged in terms of time, place, or modus operandi, the greater the chance the crime will be found relevant.”  State v. Shamp, 422 N.W.2d 520, 525 (Minn. App. 1988), review denied (Minn. Jun. 10, 1988).  After reviewing the police report of the previous incident, the court found that “the events described in the police report do, in fact, rise to the level of the ground stated in the notice of Spreigl submitted by the State.”  Regarding the third and fourth factors, the district court found that “there is clear and convincing evidence that the defendant engaged in these activities and that there is a need on the part of the State to introduce such evidence in this case as the State’s case is weak at this time.”  Finally, the district court determined that “any prejudicial [e]ffect is outweighed by its probative value,” reasoning that the state’s case was weak due to the fact that “[i]t consists of the testimony of one police officer as to what he observed on that particular day.  The testimony of the second police officer was . . . rather vague in some sense that he could not recall very much of what happened and could not, in fact, identify the defendant as being present at the time of the offense.”  The district court considered each Spreigl factor individually and did not clearly abuse its discretion in allowing the state to present the Spreigl evidence.

            Because the district court did not abuse its discretion in its evidentiary rulings and because respondent did not commit prosecutorial misconduct or impinge on appellant’s due-process rights, we affirm.