This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

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






State of Minnesota,


James Henry Coppage,


Filed June 5, 2007


Stoneburner, Judge


Anoka County District Court

File No. K5044716


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


Robert M. A. Johnson, Anoka County Attorney, Marcy S. Crain, Assistant Anoka County Attorney, Anoka County Government Center, Seventh Floor, 2100 Third Avenue, Anoka, MN 55303 (for respondent)


John M. Stuart, Minnesota Public Defender, Rochelle R. Winn, Assistant Public Defender, Suite 425, 2221 University Avenue Southeast, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant)


            Considered and decided by Stoneburner, Presiding Judge; Worke, Judge; and Parker, Judge.*

U N P U B L I S H E D  O P I N I O N




            Appellant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to support his conviction of first-degree criminal sexual conduct.  Because the evidence is sufficient to support the conviction, we affirm.



            Appellant James Henry Coppage asserts that because the testimony of the victim, who testified that Coppage raped her, was uncorroborated, the evidence introduced at trial was insufficient to support his conviction of first-degree criminal sexual conduct.  “In reviewing the sufficiency of evidence in a criminal case, ‘we are limited to ascertaining whether, given the facts in the record and the legitimate inferences that can be drawn from those facts, a jury could reasonably conclude that the defendant was guilty of the offense charged.’”  Bernhardt v. State, 684 N.W.2d 465, 476 (Minn. 2004) (quoting State v. Merrill, 274 N.W.2d 99, 111 (Minn. 1978)).  An appellate court “must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution and must assume the jury believed the state’s witnesses and disbelieved any contrary evidence.”  State v. Livingston, 420 N.W.2d 223, 227 (Minn. App. 1988).

            Coppage acknowledges that in a prosecution for first-degree criminal sexual conduct, a victim’s testimony need not be corroborated.  Minn. Stat. § 609.347, subd. 1 (2002); State v. Wright, 679 N.W.2d 186, 190 (Minn. App. 2004), review denied (Minn. June 29, 2004).  And victim corroboration is not constitutionally mandated.  State v. Ani, 257 N.W.2d 699, 700 (Minn. 1977).  But Coppage relies on cases in which the supreme court has stated that “absence of corroboration in an individual case . . . may well call for a holding that there is insufficient evidence upon which a jury could find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”  Id. (quotation omitted).

            Assessing the credibility of a witness and the weight to be given a witness’s testimony is exclusively the province of the jury.  State v. Bliss, 457 N.W.2d 385, 390 (Minn. 1990).  In executing its factfinding responsibility, the jury is free to accept some aspects of a witness’s testimony and disregard others.  State v. Poganski, 257 N.W.2d 578, 581 (Minn. 1977).  Inconsistencies and conflicts in evidence do not necessarily require reversal.  State v. Stufflebean, 329 N.W.2d 314, 319 (Minn. 1983).  “[I]nconsistencies are a sign of human fallibility and do not prove testimony is false, especially when the testimony is about a traumatic event.”  State v. Mosby, 450 N.W.2d 629, 634 (Minn. App. 1990) (citation omitted), review denied (Minn. Mar. 16, 1990).

            In this case, the victim, C.H., testified in detail about the assault that occurred when she went to Coppage’s home, which was next door to her home, to borrow a cigarette and pick up some compact discs that she and her sister had loaned to Coppage’s son a few days earlier.  C.H. unequivocally identified Coppage as the perpetrator and testified that Coppage had grabbed her by her arms, forced her down the hallway into a bedroom, and told her that he had a pistol in the bedroom.  C.H. testified that she saw the pistol on the floor next to the mattress.  C.H. testified that Coppage forced her onto the mattress and raped her.  C.H. did not immediately tell anyone about the assault, but told her daycare provider after the daycare provider noticed a change in C.H.’s demeanor and asked her if something was wrong.  The daycare provider told C.H. to call the police.  C.H. called the police and gave a taped statement to an investigator at the police station.  C.H. was examined by a sexual-assault nurse, to whom C.H. gave an account of the assault that was consistent with her statement to the police.

            The daycare provider testified about C.H.’s emotional state at the time C.H. reported the assault.  The sexual-assault nurse testified that during her examination of C.H., she found tenderness and redness consistent with forced vaginal penetration.  Coppage ignores the fact that this testimony corroborated C.H.’s testimony.

            Coppage argues that because C.H. first reported seeing a gun in his bedroom when she testified at trial, and because a repairman testified that he was in Coppage’s home during a portion of the time period during which C.H. said the rape occurred, his conviction could not be supported by her “uncorroborated” testimony.  We disagree.  Inconsistencies between C.H.’s statements and her trial testimony presented credibility issues properly resolved by the jury.  Likewise, the credibility of Coppage’s witnesses was an issue for the jury to resolve.  Plainly the evidence at trial was sufficient to support Coppage’s conviction.


* Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.