This opinion will be unpublished and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 September 18, 2007
Hennepin County District Court
File No. 05062082
Lori Swanson, Attorney General, 1800
Michael O. Freeman, Hennepin County Attorney, Thomas A. Weist, Assistant County Attorney, C-2000 Government Center, Minneapolis, MN 55487 (for respondent)
John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Rochelle R. Winn,
Assistant Public Defender,
Considered and decided by Kalitowski, Presiding Judge; Worke, Judge; and Ross, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
On appeal from a conviction of second-degree intentional murder, appellant argues that the evidence was insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he did not act in the heat of passion, and, therefore, the conviction must be reduced to first-degree manslaughter. We affirm.
D E C I S I O N
In considering a claim of
insufficient evidence, this court’s review “is limited to a painstaking
analysis of the record to determine whether the evidence, when viewed in a light
most favorable to the conviction, was sufficient to permit the jurors to reach
the verdict which they did.” State v. Webb, 440 N.W.2d 426, 430 (
On August 25, 2005, appellant Kirill Geilman called 911 to report that he had just killed his girlfriend. When officers arrived, they found R.K. dead on the apartment floor, with multiple deep wounds in her neck. Appellant admitted that he killed R.K. by repeatedly punching her in the neck with a knife. Appellant was charged with second-degree intentional murder. Appellant waived his right to a jury trial and agreed to submit the case in a stipulated-facts court trial. The parties agreed that the district court would consider first-degree manslaughter as a lesser-included offense.
that he and R.K. had been engaged in an on-again, off-again relationship since
December 2000. On the evening of August
24, appellant met R.K. at her apartment to discuss their relationship. R.K. informed appellant that if their
relationship was going to work, he had to stop sending money to his children in
Whoever causes the death of a human being with intent to cause death, but without premeditation, is guilty of second-degree intentional murder. Minn. Stat. § 609.19, subd. 1(1) (2004). In order to satisfy the elements of second-degree intentional murder, the state had to prove beyond a reasonable doubt (1) the death of R.K., (2) that appellant caused the death of R.K., (3) that appellant acted with the intent to kill, and (4) that the act took place on August 25, 2005, in Hennepin County. See 10 Minnesota Practice, CRIMJIG 11.26 (2006). In order to find that appellant had the intent to kill, the district court had to find that appellant “acted with the purpose of causing death, or believed that the act would have that result. Intent, being a process of the mind, is not always susceptible to proof by direct evidence, but may be inferred from all the circumstances surrounding the event.” See id. The comment to CRIMJIG 11.26 indicates that the elements of second-degree intentional murder do not require that the defendant’s actions be premeditated. Id.
Whoever “intentionally causes the death of
another person in the heat of passion provoked by such words or acts of another
as would provoke a person of ordinary self-control under like circumstances,”
is guilty of first-degree manslaughter.
Minn. Stat. § 609.20(1) (2004). In order to satisfy the elements of first-degree manslaughter, the
state had to prove beyond a reasonable doubt (1) the death of R.K., (2) that appellant
caused the death of R.K., (3) that appellant acted in the heat of passion with
the intent to kill R.K., and (4) that the act took place on August 25, 2005, in
Hennepin County. See 10 Minnesota Practice,
CRIMJIG 11.45 (2006). The fact-finder’s
determination regarding the existence of the intent to kill stated above for
second-degree intentional murder also applies to first-degree manslaughter. See id. Further, “[i]t is not an excuse that a
killing is committed by a person in the heat of passion, provoked by words or
acts such as would provoke a person of ordinary self-control in like
The district court concluded that
the state had proven beyond a reasonable doubt that appellant stabbed R.K. to
death, and that his actions were intentional, purposeful, and intended to cause
her death, and the court found him guilty of second-degree intentional murder. The district court found that appellant’s
testimony that he was provoked to a heat of passion was not consistent with his
testimony that he was calm and quiet that evening, and that he had not been
provoked to kill by her actions.
Therefore, the district court found appellant’s heat-of-passion
testimony not credible. This court shows
great deference to a fact-finder’s determinations of witness credibility. State
v. Dickerson, 481 N.W.2d 840, 843 (
The evidence to support appellant’s
conviction for second-degree intentional murder was sufficient to allow the
court to reach the verdict that it did. Appellant admitted that he killed R.K. Appellant grabbed a knife and held it to R.K.’s
throat. Appellant claims that when R.K.
grabbed the knife and tried to push it away, it went into her throat. Appellant testified that he was calm
and quiet that evening, and that he had not been provoked to kill by R.K.’s
The physical evidence also supports the verdict. The medical examiner testified that R.K. had several
defensive wounds on her hands, which she would not have received while holding
onto the knife. R.K. received at least
three overlapping wounds to her left neck, severing the carotid artery in two
places. Her carotid artery on the right
side had also been severed. Her windpipe was almost completely severed, an
injury that would prevent her from screaming.
The knife was driven all the way to R.K.’s spine, where it severed the
prevertrebral fascia overlaying the spine and “carved or whittled” into the
bone in several places. R.K. also had
blunt force injuries to the back of her head.
Appellant had received medical training in
The only legal issue
raised in appellant’s pro se supplemental brief is the accuracy of the Russian
translation. The broad standard that we
must apply is whether the translation was “on the whole
adequate and accurate.” State v. Mitjans,
408 N.W.2d 824, 832 (