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,
Ahmed Jama Abdullahi,
Filed October 20, 1998
Affirmed Davies, Judge
Olmsted County District Court
File No. K3971237
Hubert H. Humphrey III, Attorney General, Nancy Bode, Assistant Attorney General, 1400 NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota St., St. Paul, MN 55101-2131 (for respondent)
Raymond F. Schmitz, Olmsted County Attorney, Olmsted County Courthouse, 151 Fourth St. S.E., Rochester, MN 55904-3712 (for respondent)
Lawrence W. Pry, Assistant State Public Defender, 875 Summit Ave., Suite 371, St. Paul, MN 55105 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Davies, Presiding Judge, Schumacher, Judge, and
Appellant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his second-degree assault conviction, asserting that the state failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt his intent to cause fear of immediate bodily harm or death. We affirm.
On April 23, 1997, appellant was involved in a physical confrontation with a Rochester shopkeeper. Appellant left the shop with a bloody nose and mouth, went to his car and broke the bottom off a beer bottle, and re-entered the shop holding the neck of the broken beer bottle. He yelled obscenities at the owner and repeatedly shouted: "Come outside. Let's fight. I'm going to kill you." Appellant was approximately nine feet from the owner when appellant made these statements and a service counter separated the two men. The owner stated that he was not particularly frightened by appellant's behavior, but he did tell an employee to call the police. Appellant left shortly thereafter.
Appellant was subsequently arrested, charged with second-degree assault, and convicted after a bench trial. This appeal followed.
When a defendant has waived his right to a jury trial, we review the trial court's findings as we would a jury verdict. State v. Knowlton, 383 N.W.2d 665, 669 (Minn. 1986). Our review is limited to "a painstaking analysis of the record to determine whether the evidence, when viewed in a light most favorable to the conviction, was sufficient to permit the jurors to reach the verdict which they did." State v. Webb, 440 N.W.2d 426, 430 (Minn. 1989). When a conviction based on circumstantial evidence is challenged for insufficiency of the evidence, we will uphold the verdict if "the reasonable inferences from [the circumstantial] evidence are consistent only with defendant's guilt and inconsistent with any rational hypothesis except that of guilt." State v. Alton, 432 N.W.2d 754, 756 (Minn. 1988). In making this determination we recognize that the "jury normally is in the best position to evaluate circumstantial evidence, and that their verdict is entitled to due deference." Webb, 440 N.W.2d at 430.
The trial court found appellant guilty of second-degree assault under Minn. Stat. § 609.222, subd. 1 (1996) (assault with dangerous weapon). Appellant concedes that the broken beer bottle was a dangerous weapon.
The statutory definition of "assault" includes "an act done with intent to cause fear in another of immediate bodily harm or death." Minn. Stat. § 609.02, subd. 10(1) (1996). The intent element is generally proved by drawing inferences from the defendant's words and actions in light of the totality of the circumstances. State v. Cooper, 561 N.W.2d 175, 179 (Minn. 1997). Intent requires either "a purpose to do the thing or cause the result specified" or a belief "that the act, if successful, will cause that result." Minn. Stat. § 609.02, subd. 9(4) (1996). With regard to intent to cause fear of immediate bodily harm or death, it is not dispositive that the perpetrator's actions were ineffective on the victim. State v. Soine, 348 N.W.2d 824, 826 (Minn. App. 1984), review denied (Minn. Sept. 12, 1984). An appropriate determination of intent is based on all relevant factors, not limited to an inference from the victim's subjective response. State v. Ott, 291 Minn. 72, 75, 189 N.W.2d 377, 379 (1971).
Appellant asserts that the trial court did not address whether the state proved intent to cause fear of immediate bodily harm or death. But the trial court specifically found that appellant intended to cause fear of immediate bodily harm or death. This was a reasonable conclusion, and is supported by the facts in the record. Appellant brandished a dangerous weapon, screamed obscenities at the shopkeeper, and repeatedly threatened to kill him. Appellant demonstrated his willingness to cause physical harm to the owner in a scuffle that ended minutes before he reappeared with a dangerous weapon in his hand. Although the owner testified that he was not particularly worried by appellant's behavior, the effect on the victim is only one of many factors to consider in determining intent. Appellant suggests that his threat was simply either a "conditional and indefinite threat of harm" that was not immediate or an offer to engage in mutual combat. Neither is a rational characterization of his conduct in this circumstance.