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 August 19, 1997
Dakota County District Court
File No. K2961271
Hubert H. Humphrey III, Attorney General, Suite 1400, NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for Respondent)
James C. Backstrom, Dakota County Attorney, Scott A. Hersey, Lawrence F. Clark, Assistant County Attorneys, Dakota County Judicial Center, 1560 West Highway 55, Hastings, MN 55033 (for Respondent)
Steven P. Russett, Assistant State Public Defender, 875 Summit Avenue, LEC 304, St. Paul, MN 55105 (for Appellant)
Considered and decided by Lansing, Presiding, Randall, Judge, and Harten, Judge.
In an appeal from conviction, Richard Haines challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to prove assault in the second degree, Minn. Stat. § 609.222, subd. 1 (1996), and terroristic threats, Minn. Stat. § 609.713, subd. 1 (1996). Because the evidence supports the district court's finding of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt on both convictions, we affirm.
The district court found Richard Haines guilty of second degree assault and making terroristic threats to Deborah Bilderback. Haines and Bilderback shared a home in Inver Grove Heights. The events resulting in the charges began when Bilderback left her children with Haines and went on a date. According to Bilderback, Haines started drinking and paged her several times. Bilderback testified that when she returned Haines's call, he was angry and threatened to shoot both her and himself.
Bilderback testified that Haines continued to drink and trashed their house by throwing around food, furniture, garbage, and business records. When Bilderback returned early the next morning, she began yelling at Haines because of the mess and destruction. Bilderback testified that as she began to put things back in order, Haines came out of the bedroom holding a shotgun, pointed it in her direction, and threatened to shoot her.
Bilderback telephoned the police to report the damage to her house and to have Haines removed. Bilderback testified that before the police arrived, Haines again threatened her. After the police removed Haines, Bilderback found several shotgun shells--one of which had her name written on it. She then telephoned the police again to report that Haines had threatened her and pointed a shotgun at her while she was standing in the hallway.
Haines appeals his convictions. He has also submitted a pro se brief specifically addressing Bilderback's credibility.
D E C I S I O N
In determining the sufficiency of the evidence in a criminal case, we apply the same standard of review to a case heard by a court without a jury as to a case heard by a jury. State v. Cox, 278 N.W.2d 62, 65 (Minn. 1979). We will uphold the district court's determination if, based on the evidence in the record, the district court reasonably could have found the defendant guilty of the charged crime. Id. We must review the evidence in a light most favorable to the verdict and assume the district court believed the state's witnesses and disbelieved any contrary evidence. State v. Huss, 506 N.W.2d 290, 292 (Minn. 1993). The credibility of witness testimony and the weight given to the evidence are issues for the trier of fact. State v. Bias, 419 N.W.2d 480, 484 (Minn. 1988).
A second degree assault conviction requires proof that the person charged has "assault[ed] another with a dangerous weapon." Minn. Stat. § 609.222, subd. 1 (1996). The state presented direct evidence through Bilderback's testimony that Haines assaulted her with a shotgun. Bilderback testified that while she was cleaning the house Haines stood in the hallway and pointed a shotgun at her. These acts are sufficient to satisfy the elements of second degree assault.
Terroristic threats require a threat to commit a crime of violence made with the intent to terrorize another person or in reckless disregard of causing such terror. Minn. Stat. § 609.713, subd. 1 (1996). Bilderback testified that Haines threatened her over the telephone when he stated, "I'll shoot myself" and "I'll shoot you." Bilderback further testified that while Haines was standing in the hallway and pointing the shotgun toward her he said, "I ought to shoot you now" and "Bang." Finally, Bilderback testified that while she was putting the house back in order, she found a shotgun shell with her name written on it and a rambling letter written by Haines indicating that he was depressed and possibly suicidal. These threats are sufficient to satisfy the elements of Minn. Stat. § 609.713, subd. 1.
Haines's central argument is that the weight of the evidence does not establish beyond a reasonable doubt that he committed assault or threatened Bilderback. He points to conflicting evidence presented at trial through his testimony that he did not point the gun toward Bilderback or threaten her. But he admitted that he had been drinking and that he wrote Bilderback's name on one of the shotgun shells. In his pro se brief, Haines details additional statements in Bilderback's interview with the police that Haines asserts are untruthful or inconsistent.
The trier of fact must determine the weight and credibility given to individual witnesses. Huss, 506 N.W.2d at 292. The district court chose to credit Bilderback's statements over Haines's denials. The court may have considered the undisputed fact that Haines had been drinking heavily on the night of the incident or other credibility factors based on the court's ability to hear and perceive the witnesses. Credibility determinations are the exclusive province of the fact-finder and may not be reconsidered on appeal. "[M]inor inconsistencies in a complainant's testimony, or between her testimony and previous statements, do not deprive a verdict of sufficient support if the complainant's testimony, taken as a whole, is consistent and credible." State v. Higgins, 422 N.W.2d 277, 281 (Minn. App. 1988) (citation omitted). Viewing the direct evidence in a light most favorable to the state, we conclude that the district court could have found beyond a reasonable doubt that Haines assaulted and terroristically threatened Bilderback.