may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Wallace Ray Hodge,
Filed January 6, 1998
File No. K0962194
Hubert H. Humphrey III, Attorney General, 1400 NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota St., St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent)
Peggy J. Birk, St. Paul City Attorney, Michael A. Seasly, Assistant City Attorney, 500 City Hall, 15 West Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55102 (for respondent)
John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Lyonel Norris, Assistant State Public Defender, 2829 University Ave. S.E., Suite 600, Minneapolis, MN 55414-3230 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Davies, Presiding Judge, Lansing, Judge, and Holtan, Judge.*
Retired judge of the district court, serving as judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.
Appellant Wallace Ray Hodge was convicted of assault in the fifth degree and gross misdemeanor violation of a protective order. Appellant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting the assault conviction and asks this court to reverse that conviction. We affirm.
Appellant testified that on July 3 he had gone to a liquor store with his friend Jody. When they returned, appellant left Jody outside with the neighbor and went upstairs to his apartment, where he and J.T.H. argued about his relationship with Jody. Appellant denied striking J.T.H. during this argument, although when interrogated by the police he admitted that if J.T.H. said he hit her, he must have done so.
The jury found appellant guilty of one count of gross misdemeanor violation of a protective order, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 518B.01, subd. 14 (1996), and one count of assault in the fifth degree (misdemeanor domestic assault), in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.2242, subd. 1 (1996). Appellant was sentenced to one year in prison for the protective order violation, with a concurrent 90-day sentence for the assault. This appeal followed.
A challenge to the sufficiency of circumstantial evidence warrants stricter scrutiny. State v. Bias, 419 N.W.2d 480, 484 (Minn. 1988). Appellant contends that only circumstantial evidence was offered to prove his guilt. We disagree. While no third party directly witnessed appellant's assault on J.T.H., appellant told the police that if J.T.H. said he hit her, he must have hit her. This admission constitutes direct, not circumstantial, evidence.
An "admission" is, after all, a statement, direct or implied, of facts tending to establish guilt. It does not necessarily constitute an acknowledgement of guilt but of facts and circumstances, which, if taken in connection with proof of other facts, may permit an inference of guilt.
State v. Weber, 272 Minn. 243, 254, 137 N.W.2d 527, 535 (1965). Appellant's own statement tends to establish his guilt, particularly when taken in connection with the testimony of other witnesses.
The neighbor testified that appellant and J.T.H. were arguing vigorously moments before J.T.H. came outside bleeding from a head injury and screaming that appellant had caused that injury. A paramedic testified that J.T.H. told him that appellant had caused her injuries. This testimony, although circumstantial, clearly supports appellant's admission. When viewed in a light most favorable to the conviction, and keeping in mind the state's burden of establishing proof beyond a reasonable doubt, the jury could reasonably have found appellant guilty of assault in the fifth degree.