This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1994).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
State of Minnesota,
Sean Raydell Collins,
Filed August 20, 1996
Ramsey County District Court
File No. K1-95-301
Hubert H. Humphrey, III, Attorney General, Suite 1400, NCL Tower, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent)
Susan Gaertner, Ramsey County Attorney, Mark N. Lystig, Asst. Ramsey County Attorney, 50 W. Kellogg Blvd., Suite 315, St. Paul, MN 55102 (for respondent)
John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Susan J. Andrews, Assistant State Public Defender, 2829 University Avenue S.E., Suite 600, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Huspeni, Presiding Judge, Randall, Judge, and Amundson, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Appellant Sean Raydell Collins argues that, based on the record, there was insufficient evidence to support his conviction for first-degree criminal sexual conduct. He asserts that the evidence does not indicate that he had an opportunity to commit the crime for which he is convicted. Because we find sufficient evidence to support the jury's verdict, we affirm.
Appellant Sean Collins was convicted after trial by jury of one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. This conviction is based upon an incident that apparently took place on the evening of Monday, November 7, 1994.
At the time the offense occurred, appellant was on probation for a prior gun and drug possession conviction. As a condition of his probation, appellant was required to attend a 12-step program at the River of Life Christian Church on Monday evenings. Church records indicate that appellant failed to attend the program on October 31, 1994, and that as a result a member of the church staff was assigned the task of watching appellant at the November 7, 1994, meeting.
D E C I S I O N
According to trial testimony, sometime on the evening of November 7, appellant lured M.B., a seven-year-old child who attended a church-run nursery while his mother was in the 12-step program, into a church bathroom with the promise of candy. M.B. testified that once in the bathroom, appellant attempted to have oral sex with him. This attempt was unsuccessful because M.B. indicated that it hurt. Appellant then forced M.B. to perform oral sex on him until he ejaculated in M.B.'s mouth. After this incident, appellant told M.B. not to tell anyone what occurred because it would get them into trouble.
On November 21, 1994, M.B. was again sexually molested by appellant while riding home on a church bus provided to 12-step program participants. Appellant sat next to M.B. and placed his hand down the child's pants and fondled M.B.'s genitals. After he got home, M.B. told his older sister what occurred on the bus. M.B.'s mother overhead the conversation and confronted M.B. As a result, M.B. told his mother about both this incident
and the earlier one in the church bathroom.
M.B's mother informed the church and the St. Paul Police Department about appellant's conduct. Appellant was arrested and charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct in connection with the November 7 incident.
Where there is a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence, an appellate 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 jury to reach the verdict it did.
State v. Webb,
440 N.W.2d 426, 430 (Minn. 1989). A reviewing court must assume that "the jury believed the state's witnesses and disbelieved any evidence to the contrary."
State v. Moore,
438 N.W.2d 101, 108 (Minn. 1989). An appellate court will not disturb the verdict if the jury, acting with due regard for the presumption of innocence and for the necessity of overcoming it by proof beyond a reasonable doubt, could reasonably conclude that a defendant was proven guilty of the offense charged.
State v. Alton,
432 N.W.2d 754, 756 (Minn. 1988).
Appellant argues that the state failed to establish that he had an opportunity to molest M.B. sexually in the church bathroom on November 7, and therefore his conviction should be reversed. We are not persuaded by this argument.
Testimony presented at trial suggests that, despite the church's sign-in procedures, it was possible for an individual to leave the program for a period of time and return without being noticed by church staff. There was testimony by a member of the church staff who was assigned to watch appellant that indicates she had a number of other duties to perform that night, and it was possible for appellant to leave the meeting for a period of time without her knowledge. The record also contains testimony that suggests M.B. was away from the nursery for a brief time period on November 7, 1994. Therefore, the record clearly contains enough evidence to support the jury's conclusion that appellant had the opportunity to molest M.B. sexually in the church bathroom on November 7, 1994.
Furthermore, the conviction of an individual for the sexual abuse of a child does not require the presence of corroborative evidence and, if believed by the jury, the child's testimony alone will support a guilty verdict.
State v. Combs
, 504 N.W.2d 248, 250 (Minn. App. 1993),
(Minn. Sept. 21, 1993). In this case, the jury was able to judge the credibility of the testimony given by both M.B. and appellant during trial. The jury reasonably could have come to the decision that M.B.'s version of events was truthful. It is the unique province of the jury to observe the testimony of witnesses and make determinations as to their credibility.
State v. Pieschke
, 295 N.W.2d 580, 584 (Minn. 1980). In addition, the record contains the testimony of numerous individuals who indicate that M.B. gave each of them consistent accounts of the incident. The jury's decision to convict appellant is fully supported by the record.
While the complaint states that the charged offense occurred between October 31, 1994, and November 21, 1994, there appears to be little dispute between the parties that if the offense occurred, it would have been perpetrated on Monday, November 7, 1994.
There is no indication in the record that appellant was charged with an offense arising out of this November 21 incident.