may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
In The Matter of the Welfare of: J. K. K., Child.
Filed October 6, 1998
Kanabec County District Court
File No. J59750177
Hubert H. Humphrey III, Attorney General, 1400 NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101; and
Norman J. Loren, Kanabec County Attorney, Lisa B. Jones, Assistant County Attorney, 19 North Vine Street, Mora, MN 55051 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Amundson, Presiding Judge, Kalitowski, Judge, and Willis, Judge.
Appellant J.K.K. challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to support his adjudication as delinquent for the charge of criminal damage to property in the first degree. We affirm.
On the evening of May 12, 1997, appellant J.K.K. allegedly pried open a change machine located in a Mora laundromat and broke off two coin tubes. Appellant was charged under Minn. Stat. § 609.595 (1996) with criminal damage to property in the first degree. Appellant proceeded to trial, where he was adjudicated delinquent. Appellant argues there was insufficient evidence to sustain the adjudication because the witnesses at trial referred to appellant by name but did not specifically identify appellant in the courtroom as the individual they observed causing the damage to the coin machine.
Although a reversal on sufficiency of the evidence grounds is rare, we must reverse when we entertain grave doubts as to the defendant's guilt, and reversal is in the interest of justice. State v. Roberts, 350 N.W.2d 448, 451 (Minn. App. 1984). In reviewing the sufficiency of evidence to support a conviction, we are limited to "a painstaking analysis of the record to determine whether the evidence, viewed in a light most favorable to the conviction, was sufficient to permit the [trier of fact] to reach the verdict [it] did." State v. Webb, 440 N.W.2d 426, 430 (Minn. 1989) (citations omitted). This court must assume the trier of fact believed the state's witnesses while disbelieving any evidence to the contrary. State v. Moore, 438 N.W.2d 101, 108 (Minn. 1989).
Evidence is sufficient to support a conviction if, given the facts in the record, a jury could reasonably find the defendant committed the crimes of which he or she was convicted. State v. Wilson, 535 N.W.2d 597, 605 (Minn. 1995). Further, where the facts and legitimate inferences drawn from the facts could reasonably lead the fact-finder to conclude that a defendant is guilty, the conviction should not be disturbed. State v. Ring, 554 N.W.2d 758, 760 (Minn. App. 1996).
Here the state presented evidence from S.C.L. and P.J.K., both juveniles, who were present at the scene of the crime. Although the state failed to have P.J.K. identify appellant in court, P.J.K. responded to the state's questions as follows:
Q Okay. Is it clear in your mind who exactly broke into the change machine?
Q Who is that?
S.C.L. testified that he was in the laundromat at the time of the incident and observed "[J.K.K.] * * * grabbing the top of that coin machine and opening it." S.C.L. further testified that he observed J.K.K. and another individual remove the coin tubes from the change machine and leave the scene in a car.
We conclude the evidence is sufficient to support the adjudication. A conviction may rest upon the testimony of a single, credible witness. State v. Bliss, 457 N.W.2d 385, 390 (Minn. 1990). In this case, the district court was presented with the testimony of two witnesses who testified that they observed appellant prying open the change machine. These witnesses were unequivocal in their response to questioning regarding the identity of the individual they observed prying open the machine. Additionally, appellant identified himself by name at the beginning of the proceedings. Moreover, "[c]ircumstantial evidence may be used to substantiate a criminal conviction if it reasonably supports an inference of guilt." State v. Combs, 292 Minn. 317, 321, 195 N.W.2d 176, 178 (1972). This crime took place in a small town and the witnesses who observed appellant damage the coin machine were in the same age group as appellant and clearly knew him by name. Thus, after careful review of the facts in the record and inferences drawn from the facts, we conclude a fact-finder could reasonably determine that appellant J.K.K. was guilty of the crime in question. Further, the identity of J.K.K. was not contested at trial, nor was there any argument that the J.K.K. who introduced himself at the beginning of the proceedings was not the same J.K.K. referred to by the witnesses. Finally, we note that this court rejected an argument similar to appellant's argument in State v. Mousel, 371 N.W.2d 655 (Minn. App. 1985). In Mousel, the appellant contended his conviction could not stand where the witness had referred to him as "the defendant" and "Joseph Mousel" in his testimony but did not point him out in the courtroom. Id. at 657. The Mousel court held that the name references were "direct identifying evidence" and affirmed the conviction. Id.
Given that Mora is a small community, and that no evidence has been presented that more than one person with appellant's relatively uncommon name resides in the Mora community, the circumstantial evidence presented is consistent with appellant's guilt. Thus, believing the state's witnesses, we conclude there is sufficient evidence to support the adjudication of delinquency.