This opinion will be unpublished and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
State of Minnesota,
Idris Muhammad Abdul-Malik,
Filed August 7, 2007
Hennepin County District Court
File No. 05028733
Lori Swanson, Attorney General, 1800 Bremer Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101-2134; and
Michael O. Freeman, Hennepin County Attorney, Linda M. Freyer, Assistant County Attorney, C-2000 Government Center, Minneapolis, MN 55487 (for respondent)
John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Paul J. Maravigli, Assistant Public Defender, 2221 University Avenue Southeast, Suite 425, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Toussaint, Chief Judge; Kalitowski, Judge; and Minge, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Appellant Idris Muhammad Abdul-Malik challenges his conviction of aiding and abetting first-degree burglary, arguing that the district court erred by improperly admitting Spreigl and hearsay evidence, the prosecutor committed misconduct during closing argument, and the accumulation of alleged errors requires a new trial. We affirm.
D E C I S I O N
Appellant Idris Muhammad Abdul-Malik and two of his brothers forced their way into appellant’s estranged wife’s apartment and beat her boyfriend severely in the presence of several adults and children.
Appellant argues that the district court abused its discretion by admitting evidence that, prior to the burglary, appellant had threatened his wife that he would “hurt her if he saw her with anyone.” Appellant alleges that this is improper Spreigl evidence and that the state did not satisfy the requirements for admission of Spreigl evidence. We disagree.
Evidence of other crimes or bad acts
is characterized as Spreigl
evidence. State v. Kennedy, 585 N.W.2d 385, 389 (
We will not reverse the district
court’s admission of evidence of other crimes or prior bad acts unless the
district court abused its discretion. State v. Waino, 611 N.W.2d 575, 578 (
Before admitting Spreigl evidence, the district court
must first determine that (1) the state gave notice of its intent to admit the
evidence; (2) the state clearly indicated what it would offer the evidence 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 evidence’s potential to prejudice the defendant does
not outweigh the probative value of the evidence. Angus
v. State, 695 N.W.2d 109, 119 (
But not all unfavorable evidence is Spreigl evidence. Evidence of a necessary part of the
substantive proof of the crime is not Spreigl
evidence. State v. Roy, 408 N.W.2d 168, 171 (
We agree with the district court that the evidence is relevant to the issue of whether appellant entered his wife’s apartment with consent. We thus conclude that the district court did not abuse its discretion by determining that the evidence is not Spreigl evidence and did not require the Spreigl analysis or disclosures.
Appellant argues that the district
court abused its discretion by admitting inadmissible hearsay evidence. The district court has broad discretion in
the admission of evidence. State v. Wildenberg, 573 N.W.2d 692, 696
Hearsay evidence, defined as “a
statement, other than one made by the declarant while testifying at the trial
or hearing, offered in evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted,”
Minn. R. Evid. 801(c), is inadmissible unless it falls within an exemption or
exception to the general rule.
Appellant first challenges admission of his wife’s testimony that she heard one of appellant’s brothers threaten to “hurt” the apartment’s occupants. But the prosecutor offered the statement not to prove the truth of the matter asserted, but to show appellant’s wife’s state of mind; specifically that she was afraid of the brothers and not likely to give consent for them to enter the apartment and that the brothers intended to commit assault. The district court did not abuse its discretion by admitting this evidence.
Appellant next challenges the police officer’s testimony that appellant’s wife had made a statement that she had heard one of appellant’s brothers threaten to kill the apartment’s occupants, contending that the district court erred by failing to sustain an objection to testimony in front of the jury. As soon as the objected-to statement was made, appellant asked for a bench conference and objected to the witness’s use of the word “kill” because the evidence indicated only a threat to “hurt” the apartment’s occupants. The judge sustained appellant’s objection during the bench conference. The judge did not sustain the objection, nor was the objection made, within hearing of the jury and appellant did not request that the statement be stricken or request a curative instruction from the judge at that time. Because appellant’s objection was sustained and he requested no further action from the court at the time, the record does not support appellant’s assertion that the district court abused its discretion.
The final statement that appellant challenges is his wife’s sister’s testimony that appellant’s wife’s other sister had stated that the brothers should leave because they were scaring the children. Appellant objected, but the district court overruled, finding that the prosecution did not offer the evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted. We agree and conclude that the district court did not abuse its discretion by admitting this testimony.
Appellant argues that the prosecutor committed prejudicial misconduct during closing argument. When reviewing a claim of prosecutorial misconduct, we will only reverse a guilty verdict if the misconduct was so serious and prejudicial in light of the entire trial that it impaired the defendant’s right to a fair trial. State v. Johnson, 616 N.W.2d 720, 727-28 (Minn. 2000). Generally, a defendant is deemed to have waived a later challenge to the prosecutor’s improper argument by not objecting. Id. at 728. But an unduly prejudicial comment, even unobjected to, may warrant reversal. Id.
Appellant argues that the prosecution committed misconduct by implying that appellant changed his testimony to suit his preferred version of events, claiming that appellant’s theory was incredible, vouching for the credibility of the prosecution’s witnesses, and suggesting that appellant’s presence in the courtroom throughout the trial gave him the opportunity to adjust his testimony. But appellant did not object to any of these statements during closing arguments. Nor did he address them during his own closing argument. And the record indicates that when he was asked by the district court whether he wanted any curative instructions stemming from closing arguments, appellant’s counsel said he had no requests.
We conclude that the prosecutor’s statements were not so prejudicial in light of the entire trial to require reversal. Furthermore, because appellant failed to object to the comments and chose not to request a curative instruction, appellant has waived his right to challenge this issue.
Because this court may address the unobjected
to alleged prosecutorial misconduct under the plain-error doctrine, State v. Mayhorn, 720 N.W.2d 776, 785 (
As you are thinking about the defendant’s testimony in this case, ladies and gentlemen, the one thing I would ask that you keep in mind is the defendant is – is the only person who testified in this trial who had the benefit of seeing the testimony of every witness and hearing the testimony of every witness on this stand. Every other witness had to stay out in the hall. And none of the other witnesses got to see what the other witnesses said on the stand. So when the defendant comes to testify, he knows what he is – what he is facing. And he is going to try to make his story fit or not fit as he sees appropriate the testimony of other witnesses and try to legalize this.
Now let’s look at a few other things. In addition you know of course he’s got huge motive to do that he doesn’t want to be convicted of it. So he’s got all the witness testimony and a huge motive to try to make his story look innocent.
The Minnesota Supreme Court has stated that:
[T]he prosecution cannot use a defendant’s exercise of his right of confrontation to impeach the credibility of his testimony, at least in the absence of evidence that the defendant has tailored his testimony to fit the state’s case. Without specific evidence of tailoring, such questions and comments by the prosecution imply that all defendants are less believable simply as a result of exercising the right of confrontation. The exercise of this constitutional right, by itself, is not evidence of guilt.
Mayhorn, 720 N.W.2d at 790 (quoting State v. Swanson, 707 N.W.2d 645, 657-58
Appellant argues that the
accumulation of errors in this case requires a new trial. An accumulation of errors can require a new
trial even where no single error so requires.
See Larson v. Belzer Clinic, 292