may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
State of Minnesota,
Filed April 15, 1997
Stearns County District Court
File No. KX-95-3593
John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Evan W. Jones, Assistant State Public Defender, 2829 University Avenue S.E., Suite 600, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for Appellant)
Considered and decided by Amundson, Presiding Judge, Short, Judge, and Harten, Judge.
Larrish Humphrey argues that there was insufficient evidence to support his conviction for second degree assault, claiming that while involved in a scuffle with the victim, he accidentally, not intentionally, stabbed the victim three times. He also argues that the district court erred in admitting evidence of a prior conviction for second degree assault because that offense was not sufficiently similar to this case. We affirm.
Appellant Larrish Humphrey was convicted of second degree assault arising out of an incident in August 1989--Humphrey tried to run down his former girlfriend's male friend after the male friend told him to quit harassing her.
On February 21, 1996, Humphrey was found guilty of second degree assault (dangerous weapon) based on an incident on December 20, 1995. Appellant and the victim lived across the hall from each other in a rooming house in St. Cloud. They had been friends, but their relationship soured. On December 19, appellant and the victim had a "confrontation." On December 20, appellant and the victim were involved in a "scuffle" in the hall of the rooming house. During the scuffle, appellant gave the victim a "bear hug" and the victim was stabbed in the back three times. Appellant claims that this was accidental. When the victim said, "You stabbed me," appellant replied, "You shouldn't have done that." The victim's lung was punctured and he spent three days in the hospital. Appellant was charged with, and convicted of, second degree assault and sentenced to 36 months executed. This appeal followed.
D E C I S I O N
I. Sufficiency of the Evidence
Humphrey argues that the state did not provide sufficient evidence that the stab wounds were intentional, rather than accidental.
When there is a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence, this court's review on appeal is limited to a painstaking analysis of the record to determine whether the evidence, viewed in a light most favorable to the conviction, was sufficient to permit the jurors to reach the verdict that they did. See 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). This 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).
Generally, a person's intent must be determined "'from his words (if any) and actions in the light of all the surrounding circumstances.'" State v. Hardimon, 310 N.W.2d 564, 566 (Minn. 1981) (quoting W. LaFave and A. Scott, Criminal Law, at 203 (1972)). The supreme court noted in Hardimon that "[t]he best evidence of defendant's intent in this case is what he did." 310 N.W.2d at 566.
We conclude that the following evidence was sufficient to support the jury's conclusion that the stabbing was intentional: (1) the relationship between Humphrey and the victim had deteriorated; (2) Humphrey was so hostile to the victim just one day before the stabbing that he threatened him with the same knife that was used the next day and told him to back off; (3) the victim was stabbed not once, but three times in the back; (4) the wounds resulted from "direct stabs," one of which punctured the victim's lung, and there were no other marks or slashes on the victim's back except the direct punctures; (5) after the "scuffle," Humphrey's response to the victim's statement "you stabbed me" was "you shouldn't have done that;" and (6) the Spreigl evidence.
II. Spreigl Evidence
Humphrey argues that the district court should not have admitted evidence regarding his 1989 second degree assault conviction.
In order to admit Spreigl evidence, the district court must find
(1) that the evidence is clear and convincing that defendant participated in the Spreigl offense, (2) that the Spreigl evidence is relevant and material to the state's case, and (3) that the probative value of the Spreigl evidence is not outweighed by its potential for unfair prejudice.
State v. DeWald, 464 N.W.2d 500, 503 (Minn. 1991). The admission of Spreigl evidence is within the discretion of the district court and will not be disturbed absent a clear abuse of that discretion. Id.
Here, there is no dispute that there was clear and convincing evidence that Humphrey participated in the Spreigl offense. Humphrey argues that the earlier assault was not sufficiently similar to the current offense and thus should not have been admitted.
The Spreigl offense is similar to the charged offense because it showed, as the state notes, how Humphrey "resorted to deadly, assaultive acts in his frustration over deteriorated relationships." Cf. State v. Berry, 484 N.W.2d 14, 17 (Minn. 1992) (admission of three prior threats and/or assaults in a first-degree murder case''--"Each of the three incidents is relevant because of the similarity of the way appellant behaved when trying to maintain control of the people with whom he worked. If he thought someone had snitched on him, Berry resorted to threats and to acts of violence against that person."). We further conclude that the admission of this relevant Spreigl incident was not unduly prejudicial. Thus, we conclude that the district court did not clearly abuse its discretion in admitting this Spreigl evidence.