This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2006).
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Douglas Fred Yotter, petitioner,
Filed May 1, 2007
File No. T4-05-2368
Robert D. Sturtz, Goldman, Sturtz & Halvorsen, 137 North Broadway, P.O. Box 1009, Albert Lea, MN 56007 (for appellant)
Lori Swanson, Attorney General, 1800
Craig S. Nelson, Freeborn County Attorney, Karyn D. McBride, Assistant County Attorney, Freeborn County Courthouse, 411 South Broadway, Albert Lea, MN 56007 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Worke, Presiding Judge; Lansing, Judge; and Peterson, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
A district court judge found Douglas Yotter guilty of disorderly conduct and fifth-degree assault. On appeal from conviction, Yotter argues that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions because the state failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he did not act in self-defense. After carefully reviewing the record, we conclude that it supports the district court’s findings that Yotter provoked the other party, failed to retreat, and used an unreasonable amount of force. We therefore affirm.
F A C T S
Yotter and John Bair are former neighbors who both continue to live in southern
feud turned violent on January 14, 2005, when Yotter entered a gas station
convenience store in the town of
The Freeborn County Attorney’s office charged Yotter with fifth-degree assault and disorderly conduct. After a court trial, Yotter was found guilty of both charges. The district court found that Yotter’s testimony was not credible, that Yotter did not act in self-defense, that Yotter failed to retreat, and that Yotter used unreasonable force. On appeal, Yotter argues that the store’s videotape of the incident shows that he acted in self-defense and that the evidence was insufficient to convict him.
D E C I S I O N
challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence requires “a very thorough analysis
of the record” to determine whether the evidence was sufficient to permit the
finding of guilty. State v. Spann, 574 N.W.2d 47, 54 (
does not dispute that he struck Bair several times. Instead, his appeal focuses on whether the state
disproved his claim of self-defense. For
purposes of this appeal, we assume that Yotter produced a sufficient threshold
of evidence to raise a claim of self-defense.
Furthermore, we assume that self-defense would excuse both the assault
and the disorderly conduct charges.
First, the district court could find beyond a reasonable doubt that Yotter provoked Bair into attacking him. Bair testified that Yotter threatened him and blocked Bair’s attempt to leave the convenience store. The convenience-store clerk testified that Yotter was standing “right up behind him, kind of a—kind of an in your face kind of thing, but from behind.” Thus, there was sufficient evidence to find that Yotter provoked Bair’s use of force.
Second, the district court could find beyond a reasonable doubt that Yotter had a reasonable opportunity to retreat and failed to use that opportunity. The videotape shows that Yotter had options other than the use of force. Yotter, for example, could have walked away from Bair. Instead, the videotape shows that Yotter followed Bair. Thus, the evidence was sufficient to find that Yotter had a reasonable opportunity to retreat.
Third, the district court could find beyond a reasonable doubt that Yotter used an unreasonable amount of force. In addition to the videotape, the testimony of Bair and the convenience-store clerk supported this conclusion. Bair testified that Yotter “started hitting on me from behind and next thing I knew I was on the floor bleeding.” The clerk testified that Yotter struck Bair “several times.” The district court found this testimony to be credible. The videotape and this testimony thus provide sufficient support for the district court’s finding that Yotter used an unreasonable amount of force.
a claim of self-defense is raised, the state has the burden of disproving the
defense beyond a reasonable doubt. Soukup, 656 N.W.2d 429. The state can satisfy this burden by
disproving any element of the defense.