This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2006).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Della J. Glover,
Filed July 10, 2007
Ramsey County District Court
File No. K5-04-472
Lori Swanson, Attorney General, 1800
John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Theodora K. Gaitas,
Assistant Public Defender,
Considered and decided by Dietzen, Presiding Judge; Toussaint, Chief Judge; and Halbrooks, Judge.
Appellant challenges her conviction of first-degree criminal damage to property, arguing that the evidence was not sufficient to support the conviction. Because we conclude that the evidence viewed in the light most favorable to the jury’s verdict supports the conviction, we affirm.
Appellant Della Glover and G.S. Lindsey had an on-again, off-again romantic relationship which, in Lindsey’s words, “was kind of broken off” at the time relevant to the action. Appellant characterized her relationship with Lindsey as “rocky” with a lot of “ups and downs.” In the Fall of 2003, Lindsey was in the beginning stages of a romantic relationship with Darlene Lurks.
On a Friday evening in October, Lurks drove a pick-up truck to Lindsey’s house, parked it in front of Lindsey’s house, and spent the night with Lindsey. Early that same morning, appellant, who had been partying with a friend, stopped by Lindsey’s house and knocked, “just to see if he was there, say hello to him, or whatever.” When no one came to the door, appellant left.
Appellant returned about mid-day because she wanted to talk to Lindsey. Appellant knocked on the door of Lindsey’s home. Lindsey did not respond to appellant’s knocking or answer the door because he wanted to avoid a confrontation. When Lindsey did not answer, appellant yelled and swore at Lindsey through the doors and windows, stating that she knew he was in the house. A nearby mail carrier heard the loud pounding and heard someone say, “I know you’re here.” As the mail carrier approached the house, he saw appellant knock on the door and windows and go around to the side of the house. Lindsey estimated that appellant knocked on his door and windows for fifteen minutes to a half hour.
Five to ten minutes after the knocking stopped, Lindsey looked out the window and saw a fire burning in the bed of the pick-up truck parked in front of his house. Lindsey tried to extinguish the fire with an outside water hose, but when the water hit the truck, it blew out the back window of the truck cab. Fire investigators later determined that the fire started in the bed of the pickup and was likely ignited with the help of a flammable liquid. The truck sustained over $9,000 in damages and was considered “totaled” by the insurance company.
Appellant was contacted by investigators and initially denied being at Lindsey’s house that day. After the investigators informed appellant that witnesses had seen her at Lindsey’s house, appellant admitted that she was there around 4:00 a.m. but gave conflicting times as to when she returned, and changed her story repeatedly. Appellant was charged with first-degree criminal damage to property, under Minn. Stat. § 609.595, subd. 1(3) (2002). She pleaded not guilty and requested a jury trial.
At trial, Lindsey testified regarding the events of that morning. He also stated that at the time of the fire, he had stored a can of gasoline in his backyard. Appellant testified that she first went to Lindsey’s house early that morning and returned shortly before the fire occurred in the pick-up truck. She admitted that she observed the pick-up truck, knocked on the door and windows of the house and yelled out for Lindsey, but denied starting the fire. Following the trial, the jury found appellant guilty. The district court sentenced appellant, and this appeal followed.
D E C I S I O N
that the evidence is not sufficient to support a conviction of first-degree
criminal property damage. In considering
a claim of insufficient evidence, our review is limited to a painstaking
analysis of the record to determine whether the evidence, viewed in the light
most favorable to the conviction, is sufficient to allow the jurors to reach
the verdict that they did. State v. Webb, 440 N.W.2d 426, 430 (
conviction “based entirely on circumstantial evidence merits stricter scrutiny
than convictions based in part on direct evidence.” State
v. Jones, 516 N.W.2d 545, 549 (
Here, appellant was charged with criminal damage to property under Minn. Stat. § 609.595, subd. 1(3) (2002), which required the state to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that appellant intentionally caused damage to the truck. Appellant argues that the circumstantial evidence was too weak to support a conviction. She argues that there was no direct evidence that she started the fire, and that her anger with Lindsey is not enough to support an inference that she started the fire. She argues that she did not threaten Lindsey or his girlfriend, that she had no history of violence, and that there is no evidence that she knew the truck was connected to Lindsey or his new girlfriend.
an appellant must show more than the possibility of her innocence; she must
show that her theory of innocence makes the state’s explanation
unreasonable. State v. Pirsig, 670 N.W.2d 610, 614 (
Appellant wanted to be with Mr. Lindsey but he was with [his new girlfriend]. Appellant realized this when she went to his house on November 1, 2003, and she became upset. She knocked loudly and repeatedly to confront Mr. Lindsey but he did not answer the door. Witnesses testified that she yelled through the door. She admitted she was at Mr. Lindsey’s house minutes before the fire; she acknowledged she knocked loudly on his door and that she looked in the truck. A can of gasoline was nearby. Appellant admitted that she was a smoker and had access to a lighter.
When viewed in the light most favorable to the jury’s verdict, the circumstantial evidence forms a complete chain that leads directly to appellant’s guilt. The evidence in the record supports the conclusion that appellant was emotional, upset, and frustrated with Lindsey; and that she responded by taking the gas can from his yard and setting the truck on fire. The short time period between her actions and the fire strengthens this conclusion and supports her conviction.
changing story further supports an inference that she was not truthful about
her actions that morning. See Eggersgluss
v. Comm’r of Pub. Safety, 393 N.W.2d 183, 185 (
in her pro se brief, challenges Lindsey and Lurk’s credibility. But, the jury plainly found Lindsey and Lurk’s
version of the events more credible. Witness
credibility is a question for the jury, and on appeal, this court must defer to
that conclusion. State v. Travica, 398 N.W.2d 666, 670 (
On this record, appellant’s conviction for first-degree damage to property is amply supported by the evidence.