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,
Scott Freddy Randall,
Filed December 16, 1997
St. Louis County District Court
File No. K5-96-100814
John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Patricia Rettler, Assistant State Public Defender, 2829 University Avenue Southeast, Suite 600, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Amundson, Presiding Judge, Huspeni, Judge, and Katlitowski, Judge.
Appellant challenges his convictions, arguing that the district court improperly admitted evidence that (1) he possessed a large quantity of ammunition, and (2) he possessed nearly $6,000 at the time of his arrest. Appellant argues that he was denied his right to a fair trial when the jury heard evidence that his wife had charged him with assault. He also argues that the prosecutor's closing remarks constitute misconduct. We affirm.
The family gathered their belongings and drove to Ely, where they reported the incident. Randall had meanwhile reported his wife and stepdaughter missing. Police drove to his home, where he admitted dragging Dixon but denied firing a weapon. The police inventoried his possessions, which included $5,915 and a set of keys. The keys opened a strongbox in the residence that contained a black semi-automatic pistol and corresponding magazine clip, as well as a savings passbook reflecting a balance of over $10,000. The police also seized over 11,500 rounds of ammunition from the home and several spent ammunition shell casings from throughout the property.
After a jury trial, Randall was convicted of one count of fifth-degree assault pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 609.224 (1994), one count of terroristic threats pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 609.713, subd. 1 (1994), and one count of felon in possession of a pistol pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 624.713, subd. 1 (b) (1994). This appeal followed.
Unlike the ammunition evidence, defense counsel did object to police testimony about the large sum of money in Randall's possession at the time of his arrest. The district court allowed the evidence after the state argued that Randall's possession of a large amount of money, combined with his wife's lack of awareness of the possession, supported the state's contention that Randall's relationship with his wife had deteriorated and thus Randall was lashing out at others in the family. The district court specifically allowed the evidence with the understanding that the evidence would be used only to support issues of the relationships between members of the family, and would not be used to support a drug-related inference. The district court did not abuse its discretion in admitting the evidence.
Q. So would you say your marriage was in trouble, you were having problems in it?
A. Yes. I had filed for divorce once before, and I had Restraining Orders and assault charges against my husband --
MR. VALENTINI [Randall's counsel]: Objection, Your Honor--
THE WITNESS: --before 1992.
THE COURT: Ma'am. I'll sustain as nonresponsive, direct that the jury disregard the last remark, everything after filed for divorce. And Mr. Florey [prosecutor], if he feels it's relevant, ma'am, he'll go into it with you.
THE WITNESS: Okay.
THE COURT: I would ask the jury to disregard those remarks after filed for divorce.
Randall argues that it was error to allow the jury to hear about a prior assault charge against him. However, the district court properly instructed the jury to disregard the witness's spontaneous comment. No additional comments regarding an assault charge were made. Randall's ability to have a fair trial was not threatened.
Scott Freddy Randall had his own little dictatorship out on his property on Birch Lake Road. It was a dictatorship based on fear, based on intimidation. It was a dictatorship based on total control. And never in his wildest dreams did he think it would all come tumbling down around him like it has here. Never did he think that someone like Holly Dixon could summon the courage to stand up against him, but she has.
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We're here, Ladies and Gentlemen, because Holly Dixon had the courage to stand up and bring an end to this reign of terror that the Defendant had brought on these folks.
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He knows that he's crossed the line this time. He knows that this has gone further than it should have, and that he's losing control of these folks.
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That's what he did. And that's not something that we can stand for in a civilized society.
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The Defendant's reign of terror has been brought to an end, and it must be kept there. His conduct here is unacceptable.
Randall argues that these comments constitute prosecutorial misconduct. A prosecutor "must avoid inflaming the jury's passions and prejudices against the defendant," particularly where credibility is the central issue. State v. Porter, 526 N.W.2d 359, 363 (Minn. 1995). While we do not endorse the remarks of the prosecutor, and we note the danger of inflammatory language, these closing remarks do not rise to the level of prosecutorial misconduct.
Judge Roland C. Amundson