This opinion will be unpublished and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
Filed August 14, 2007
Clay County District Court
File No. K7-05-1845
Lori Swanson, Attorney General, James B. Early, Assistant Attorney
Brian J. Melton, Clay County Attorney, Clay County Courthouse, 807 North 11th Street, P.O. Box 280, Moorhead, MN 56561 (for respondent)
John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Theodora Gaïtas, Assistant State
Considered and decided by Ross, Presiding Judge; Toussaint, Chief Judge; and Parker, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Appellant Hufnagle was charged with theft of an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) valued at over $2,500, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.52, subds. 2(1), 3(2) (2004). After a trial, he was convicted and the court stayed imposition of the sentence. In this appeal, he argues that his conviction should be vacated for insufficient evidence because (1) the only evidence of his participation in the theft was the uncorroborated testimony of alleged accomplices, and (2) the state failed to establish the value of the stolen property at the time of the theft. Because the jury could reasonably have believed that Hufnagle’s friends did not participate in the actual theft of the ATV, and because the ATV’s owner testified that he put between $2,500 and $3,000 of accessories and equipment into the vehicle that had been purchased new for $6,390 in 1999, the evidence was sufficient to convict Hufnagle of theft and we affirm.
D E C I S I O N
1. Sufficiency of the Evidence
Hufnagle first alleges that his conviction must be
vacated because the only evidence of his participation in the theft was the
uncorroborated testimony of his alleged accomplices, ViAnnah Sullivan, Nathan
Bohner, and Robert Krauth, and therefore the evidence was insufficient to support
the guilty verdict by the jury. On
review of a claim of insufficient evidence, this court must determine whether
“given the facts in the record and any legitimate inferences that can be drawn
from those facts, a jury could reasonably find that the defendant was guilty of
the charged offense.” State v. Laine, 715 N.W.2d 425, 430 (
Here, Sullivan testified that
Hufnagle told her he took the keys from a four-wheeler parked in Mark Rambow’s
yard and that he planned to steal it later.
Later, when Hufnagle and Sullivan were socializing with Krauth and Bohner,
Hufnagle told the group that he wanted to execute “
An accomplice is one who could be indicted and convicted of the
same crime as the defendant. State v. Lee, 683 N.W.2d 309, 314 (
A conviction cannot be had upon the testimony of an accomplice, unless it is corroborated by such other evidence as tends to convict the defendant of the commission of the offense, and the corroboration is not sufficient if it merely shows the commission of the offense or the circumstances thereof.
Whether Krauth and Bohner were accomplices was a question directly presented to the jury after the close of the arguments:
If you find that any person who has testified in this case is a person who could be charged with the same crime as the defendant, you cannot find the defendant guilty of a crime on that testimony unless that testimony is corroborated.
Though Hufnagle points
to discrepancies in these witnesses’ testimony and argues that Krauth and
Bohner lacked credibility, the jury was specifically given the task of determining
whether or not they would credit the testimony.
Furthermore, “[i]nconsistencies in the state’s case are not grounds for
reversing the jury verdict.” State v.
Robinson, 604 N.W.2d 355, 366 (
The evidence was sufficient to allow a jury to reasonably
find that Krauth and Bohner were not accomplices. Viewing the evidence in the light most
favorable to the verdict, the record shows that Sullivan, Krauth, and Bohner
all testified that Krauth and Bohner did not participate in the actual theft of
the four-wheeler, were not present when the theft took place, and that any aid
they did give was after the fact and did not rise to the level of accomplice
liability for the theft itself. Krauth
testified that he did not know anything about
Bohner’s and Krauth’s testimony was more than sufficient to corroborate Sullivan’s testimony and to support a guilty verdict. Krauth and Bohner both testified that they heard Hufnagle talking about stealing the four-wheeler. They testified that they responded to Hufnagle’s call for aid and that they saw him with the four-wheeler later identified as Rambow’s stolen ATV. Rambow testified that it is unlikely that he left the keys in the four-wheeler on the night of the theft, substantiating Sullivan’s testimony that Hufnagle had previously stolen the keys.
The case before the jury came down to the credibility of
witnesses, the majority of whom were involved either with the theft itself or
with the destruction of the evidence.
“[W]eighing the credibility of witnesses is a function exclusively for
the jury.” Pippitt, 645 N.W.2d at
94. Even if witnesses’ credibility is
questionable, the jury is entitled to believe them.
2. Value of ATV
Hufnagle argues that the state failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the four-wheeler’s value exceeded $2,500, as required for conviction under the theft statute. Minn. Stat. § 609.52, subds. 2(1), 3(2) (2004). He alleges that the state never established the value of the four-wheeler at the time of the theft, or its replacement value, relying instead on Rambow’s testimony that he had paid $6,390 for the vehicle new in 1999, that additional accessories cost between $2,000 and $3,000, and that he had just replaced the tires and rims at a cost of $500.
Hufnagle was convicted of theft in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.52, subds. 2(1), 1(3), which requires proof that the value of the stolen property exceeded $2,500 “at the time of the theft, or if the retail market value cannot be ascertained, the cost of replacement of the property within a reasonable time after the theft.” Minn. Stat. § 609.52, subd. 1(3). While Hufnagle is correct that the state failed to ascertain the actual value of the four-wheeler at the exact time of the theft, the prosecutor did establish that the value of the accessories was between $2,000 and $3,000, which, along with the new tires and rims, would put the amount over $2,500 without taking into consideration the depreciated cost of the four-wheeler as a whole.
This court has upheld convictions
where the current market value of stolen goods was indeterminable, but in which
the “[s]tate presented evidence of the original purchase price and the age of
each of the stolen items. . . .” Herme v. State, 384 N.W.2d 205, 208 (
Viewing the testimony in the light most favorable to the jury verdict, the jury could well have drawn a reasonable and legitimate inference that the current market value of the vehicle was more than $2,500 because the accessories alone cost at least this much. Robinson, 604 N.W.2d at 365-66. Therefore, even though the state failed to establish the current market value of the ATV, the jury reasonably believed that the value of Rambow’s four-wheeler exceeded the requisite $2,500, and we affirm that determination.
* Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.