This opinion will be unpublished and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
In the Matter of the Welfare of: A. T. S.
Filed December 31, 2007
Hennepin County District Court
File No. 27-JV-06-6818
Samuel A. McCloud, Carson J. Heefner, Suite 1000, Circle K, Box 216, Shakopee, MN 55379 (for appellant A.T.S.)
Lori Swanson, Attorney General, 1800 Bremer Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101; and
Michael O. Freeman, Hennepin County Attorney, Jennifer J. Johnson, Assistant County Attorney, C-2000 Government Center, Minneapolis, MN 55487 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Shumaker, Presiding Judge; Klaphake, Judge; and Worke, Judge.
On appeal from an
adjudication of delinquency for possession of an explosive or incendiary
device, appellant argues that the uncorroborated testimony of his accomplices
was insufficient to support the adjudication.
Because we conclude that there was sufficient evidence to support the
adjudication, we affirm.
D E C I S I O N
This court reviews a sufficiency-of-the-evidence challenge by viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict, and assuming that the fact-finder disbelieved any testimony in conflict with the verdict. State v. Thomas, 590 N.W.2d 755, 757 (Minn. 1999); see also In re Welfare of S.A.M., 570 N.W.2d 162, 167 (Minn. App. 1997) (applying the same standard in reviewing juvenile delinquency adjudication). “We review circumstantial evidence corroborating an accomplice’s testimony in the light most favorable to the verdict.” State v. Bowles, 530 N.W.2d 521, 532 (Minn.1995).
On May 9, 2006, an explosion occurred in a high school boys’ bathroom. A digital surveillance video prior to the explosion, showed four boys, appellant A.T.S., S.S., W.M., and O.S., entering the bathroom with appellant carrying a backpack. W.M. and S.S. exited the bathroom approximately 30 seconds later, followed by O.S., and finally appellant. After appellant left the bathroom, the explosion occurred. The school liaison officer and the assistant principal identified the four boys from the surveillance video and interviewed them. Appellant was charged with possession of an explosive or incendiary device and negligently causing an explosive or incendiary device to discharge, both felonies. See Minn. Stat. § 609.668, subds. 2(a), 6(c) (2004). S.S. and W.M. testified that appellant brought a large homemade firecracker to school in his backpack, told them how he made it following instructions from the Internet, and they gave similar descriptions of the device. When appellant stated that he wanted to light the firecracker in the hallway, S.S. suggested they do it in the bathroom. S.S. and W.M. testified that they left the bathroom before the firecracker was lit, but heard the explosion. Appellant’s father testified that he had seen appellant with firecrackers before and that appellant had access to the Internet through the family computer. The school liaison officer and assistant principal also testified regarding the events that day. Following trial, the district court found that the state had proven beyond a reasonable doubt that appellant possessed an explosive or incendiary device, and adjudicated him delinquent. The district court also found that the state had failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that appellant negligently caused the discharge of an explosive or incendiary device.
Appellant argues that because S.S. and W.M. were accomplices, their testimony cannot provide sufficient corroboration to support his adjudication.
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.
Minn. Stat. § 634.04 (2004). The supreme court has recognized that this statute applies to juvenile cases. In re Welfare of K.A.Z., 266 N.W.2d 167, 169 (Minn. 1978). It is also clear that the testimony of one accomplice cannot corroborate that of another. Id.
The general test for determining whether a witness is an accomplice for purposes of Minn. Stat. § 634.04 is whether he could have been charged and convicted for the same crime as the accused. State v. Jensen, 289 Minn. 444, 446, 184 N.W.2d 813, 815 (1971). Mere presence at the scene, inaction, knowledge, and passive acquiescence, however, do not show that an individual played a knowing role in the commission of the crime. State v. Gates, 615 N.W.2d 331, 337 (Minn. 2000), abrogated on other grounds by State v. Wright, 726 N.W.2d 464 (Minn. 2007).
Both S.S. and W.M. testified that appellant made the firecracker at home and brought it to school in his backpack. There is no evidence to show that either S.S. or W.M. was involved with making the device or was ever in possession of the device. The surveillance video supports S.S. and W.M.’s testimony that appellant brought the device to school in his backpack; appellant is seen on the video carrying a backpack. There is no evidence to show that S.S. or W.M. were ever in possession of the device; it merely shows that they were present when the crime was committed. S.S. and W.M.’s conduct is not sufficient to elevate them to the level of an accomplice on the offense of possession of an explosive or incendiary device.
Finally, there is a question as to whether S.S. could have been an accomplice to the offense of negligently causing an explosive or incendiary device to discharge because he admittedly suggested they go into the bathroom to light the device rather than the hallway. The district court, however, found that the state had not proven beyond a reasonable doubt that appellant negligently discharged an explosive device, and the evidence suggests that it was more likely that appellant discharged the device than S.S. Even if S.S. could be considered an accomplice to the possession offense, there is sufficient corroborating evidence to support S.S.’s testimony, including the testimony of the school liaison officer, the assistant principal, appellant’s father, and the surveillance video showing appellant with the backpack and S.S. and W.M. fleeing the bathroom before the explosion.