This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).




In the Matter of the Welfare of: R.M.S.

Filed January 27, 1998


Lansing, Judge

Hennepin County District Court

File No. J19750034

William E. McGee, Hennepin County Public Defender, Warren R. Sagstuen, Assistant Public Defender, 317 Second Avenue South, Suite 200, Minneapolis, MN 55401-2700 (for appellant)

Hubert H. Humphrey III, Attorney General, 1400 NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent)

Michael O. Freeman, Hennepin County Attorney, Beverly J. Benson, Assistant County Attorney, C-2000 Government Center, Minneapolis, MN 55487 (for respondent)

Considered and decided by Willis, Presiding Judge, Lansing, Judge, and Davies, Judge.



A juvenile challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his delinquency adjudication on one count of burglary in the third degree. We conclude that the evidence was sufficient to support the adjudication and affirm.


The district court found that R.M.S. committed third degree burglary by entering Hi End Audio in Hopkins through a back window at 2:00 a.m. The court's finding was based on testimony of the three witnesses appearing at the hearing: the owner of Hi End Audio, a Hopkins police officer, and M.S.E., a juvenile co-defendant.

M.S.E. testified that he and R.M.S. had gone to Hi End Audio the day before the incident to pick up an amplifier that M.S.E. had left for repair. When the amplifier was not ready, M.S.E. said he got mad and unlocked a back window intending to re-enter the store later through the window to retrieve his amplifier. M.S.E. and R.M.S. returned at 2:00 a.m. and found the window locked, but M.S.E. broke the window open with a screwdriver. He testified that he convinced R.M.S. to enter the shop to retrieve the amplifier.

The store's owner had earlier discovered the unlocked window and alerted police. A patrolling police car arrived while R.M.S. was in the store, and M.S.E. ran off but was soon apprehended. R.M.S. also ran from the store and was apprehended by a Hopkins police officer who, with his canine, tracked R.M.S. through freshly fallen snow from the store's broken window to a hiding place.

R.M.S. appeals his delinquency adjudication, contending that the evidence is insufficient to support a finding that he intended to steal anything from Hi End Audio.


To be sufficient in a delinquency adjudication, the evidence must establish the truth of the petition "beyond a reasonable doubt." In re Welfare of S.W.T., 277 N.W.2d 507, 514 (Minn. 1979) (quoting In re Winship, 397 U.S. 358, 90 S. Ct. 1068 (1970)). In reviewing a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence to prove a juvenile petition, this court must review the record and the legitimate inferences from the record in a light most favorable to the decision. See In re Welfare of M.D.S., 345 N.W.2d 723, 733-34 (Minn. 1984). The district court's findings of fact will not be set aside unless they are clearly erroneous, and the reviewing court must give due regard to the district court's assessment of the credibility of witnesses. Minn. R. Civ. P. 52.01 (1996).

Third degree burglary occurs when a person "enters a building without consent and with intent to steal or commit any felony or gross misdemeanor while in the building or enters a building without consent and steals or commits a felony or gross misdemeanor while in the building." Minn. Stat. § 609.582, subd. 3 (1996). The state must prove the defendant intended to commit an independent offense other than trespass after entering the building illegally. State v. Larson, 358 N.W. 2d 668, 670 (Minn. 1984).

R.M.S. admits to entering Hi End Audio without permission; thus the issue on appeal is whether the state provided sufficient proof of his intent to steal or commit another independent crime. Because intent is a state of mind that is not physically observable, the state may prove a defendant's intent through circumstantial evidence. State v. Hardimon, 310 N.W. 2d 564, 566 (Minn. 1981). Convictions based on circumstantial evidence merit stricter scrutiny, however, and the evidence must form "a complete chain" that points so directly to the accused's guilt "as to exclude, beyond a reasonable doubt, any reasonable inference other than that of guilt." State v. Bias, 419 N.W.2d 480, 484 (Minn. 1988) (citing State v. Wahlberg, 296 N.W. 2d 408, 411 (Minn. 1980)). As the trier of fact, the district court is in the best position to evaluate circumstantial evidence, and, as a reviewing court, we defer to its findings. See State v. Anderson, 379 N.W. 2d 70, 75 (Minn. 1985), cert. denied, 476 U.S. 1141 (1986).

The apprehension inside a building of a person without permission to enter and with no family relationship to the possessor of the building ordinarily, by permissible inferences, supports a burglary conviction. Larson, 358 N.W.2d at 670. Forced entry into a building is also circumstantial evidence of burglary, and a burglary conviction has been sustained on evidence that the padlock and hasp on a warehouse door had been forced and a large door had been broken open. State v. Crosby, 277 Minn. 22, 25-26, 151 N.W.2d 297, 299-300, (1967). The supreme court reasoned that a fact-finder could infer that the parties "intended to take something or they would not have broken in." Id. Evidence of a defendant's forced entry into a building coupled with an attempt to flee after being found inside also "provide[s] sufficient circumstantial evidence to support the jury's finding of intent." State v. Roehl, 409 N.W. 2d 44, 47 (Minn. App. 1987).

Viewing the circumstances as a whole, it was not unreasonable for the district court to infer R.M.S.'s criminal intent from the circumstantial evidence offered by the state. Despite R.M.S.'s alleged reluctance to participate in the break-in, he returned to the store with M.S.E. in the middle of the night, watched M.S.E. break open a window, crawled through the window, moved through the store's inventory of used equipment, and then fled from the police officers when they arrived at the store. M.S.E.'s explanation that they were simply trying to reclaim his amplifier had to be evaluated in light of M.S.E.'s admission to the burglary petition and whether it was credible that they would use this method of retrieval rather than simply requesting the return during regular store hours.

The evidence was undisputed that M.S.E. unlocked a window in one of the store's back rooms, intending to enter the premises illegally. M.S.E. broke into the room that housed the store's used equipment, rather than the room where his amplifier was stored. The store's repair room is about 20 feet away from the site of the break-in. The district court had sufficient evidence to conclude that R.M.S. entered the store intending to take something that did not belong to him.

On appeal the state argues the evidence is sufficient to support R.M.S.'s adjudication for third degree burglary, but contends the district court did not comply with Minn. R. Juv. P. 13.09 (Minn. 1996), which requires issuance of written findings within seven days of the conclusion of the trial. Although the findings are only minimally adequate for the purposes of review, the state neither brought a motion requesting more specificity nor filed a notice of review. For these reasons, we do not address the state's argument on insufficient findings.