may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
State of Minnesota,
Bruce Edward Patterson,
Filed January 19, 1999
Hennepin County District Court
File No. CA 97-074211
Michael A. Hatch, Attorney General, 1400 NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101; and
Amy Klobuchar, Hennepin County Attorney, Mary M. Lynch, Assistant County Attorney, C-2000 Government Center, Minneapolis, MN 55487 (for respondent)
John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Marie Wolf, Assistant State Public Defender, 2829 University Avenue Southeast, Suite 600, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Lansing, Presiding Judge, Randall, Judge, and Short, Judge.
Appellant argues that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction for second-degree criminal sexual conduct. He requests that his conviction be overturned, or, in the alternative, that he be granted a new trial. We affirm.
On August 21, 1997, appellant Bruce Edward Patterson had gone to meet a friend by the pool in Webber Park when he encountered three girls: S.P., age 12; J.D., age 12; and S.P.'s sister L.P., age 9. Patterson and the children did not previously know each other, but the girls led him to the pool area. Patterson waited a short time for his friend, who never arrived. He then walked to a liquor store to buy alcohol and cigarettes. The girls followed him and when Patterson emerged from the liquor store, the group walked back to the park together where the girls met S.P.'s brother, age 13, and A.E., age 9.
The children and Patterson were together for approximately one hour. During that time, they remained near a waterfall-like area in the park. There was evidence that some of the children were drinking and smoking. All four children testified that Patterson gave them the alcohol and that they left Patterson's company because they became scared. Patterson, however, testified that after he took the alcohol away from the children and refused to give it back, the children became upset, pleaded with him to return it to them, and left when he would not do so. Although Patterson denied that he touched any of the children inappropriately, J.D. testified that Patterson touched her breasts for about ten seconds. She also testified that he touched her left buttock in a circular motion. S.P. corroborated J.D.'s testimony that Patterson touched her breasts.
After leaving Patterson's company, the children ran to the park building and informed the park director that they were having problems with a man and that he had given them some "strawberry pop." The children were nervous and scared. Based on the children's behavior and the information they provided, the director suspected that the man had offered them alcohol. She then notified a park agent that a man was offering alcohol to minors by the waterfall area. The park agent encountered Patterson, who fit the description the children had given. Although Patterson denied having any alcohol, the agent could smell the odor of an alcoholic beverage on his breath. Patterson consented to a search of his duffel bag. There, the agent found a bottle of strawberry daiquiri. The agent handcuffed Patterson, took him to the park building, and called the Minneapolis Police Department. Two police officers arrived and took Patterson into custody.
Patterson was charged in Hennepin County District Court with one count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.343, subd. 1(a) (1996), and two counts of solicitation of a child to engage in sexual conduct in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.352 (1996). A jury acquitted him on the two solicitation charges but found him guilty on the criminal sexual conduct charge. The district court granted a stay of imposition for 10 years, sentenced Patterson to 365 days in the workhouse, imposed conditions on juvenile contact and substance use, required participation in treatment programs, and required Patterson to register as a sex offender.
Minn. Stat. § 609.343, subd. 1(a) (1998) reads, in pertinent part:
A person who engages in sexual contact with another person is guilty of criminal sexual conduct in the second degree if * * * (a) the complainant is under 13 years of age and the actor is more than 36 months older than the complainant.
"Sexual contact," for the purposes of this subdivision consists of acts done with sexual or aggressive intent, including intentional touching by the actor of the complainant's breasts or buttocks (whether through clothing or not). Minn. Stat. § 609.341, subds. 5, 11(a) (1998). The complainant's testimony need not be corroborated. Minn. Stat. § 609.347, subd. 1 (1998). Where testimony is conflicting, "it is the exclusive function of the jury to weigh the credibility of the witnesses." State v. Blair, 402 N.W.2d 154, 158 (Minn. App. 1987) (citations omitted).
Patterson argues that because there are conceivably three factual scenarios that reasonable people could find possible based on the evidence, the jury should have had doubts as to his guilt; therefore, he could not be guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Two of the three scenarios Patterson envisions would not establish guilt. The first of these scenarios is that the children lied about Patterson touching them because they thought they were in trouble for drinking and smoking. The second is that the children were originally playing a joke on Patterson until the suggestive behavior of the police and park official changed the children's accounts of what occurred. The third scenario Patterson offers as a factual possibility is that he engaged in sexual contact with J.D as charged. Patterson simply highlights conflicting testimony that arose during trial and uses the conflicts to construct two other possible scenarios that, if true, would establish that he was not guilty. He argues that these inconsistencies tend to impeach the credibility of the state's evidence.
A similar argument was rejected in Blair. In that case, the appellant argued that the evidence was insufficient to convict him of second-degree criminal sexual conduct because there were inconsistencies in the testimony of the victim and because the victim's testimony was essentially uncorroborated. Id. at 158. Specifically, appellant noted that the victim had told the sheriff that she had been abused on "five or more" occasions but testified to only three during trial. Id. The court rejected appellant's argument, noting that "inconsistencies in the State's case do not automatically require reversal of the jury's verdict." Id. (citation omitted). Furthermore, the court reasoned, "[w]here the case is based upon conflicting testimony, it is the exclusive function of the jury to weigh the credibility of the witnesses." Id. at 158, (citing State v Heinzer, 347 N.W.2d 535, 538 (Minn. App.), review denied (Minn. July 26, 1984)).
Here, the jury heard the testimony of J.D., who said that Patterson touched her on the breasts and buttock. Even though this evidence did not require corroboration, S.P. testified that she saw Patterson touching J.D.'s breasts. Additionally, the jury considered the testimony of the park patrol agent who said that Patterson lied about having consumed alcohol. The jury also heard Patterson's own testimony and had an opportunity to evaluate his demeanor and his denials in light of conflicting testimony from the four children who testified. The record shows that these credibility issues were presented to the jury for resolution and by its verdict, the jury rejected Patterson's version of events. This was the jury's right. See State v. Larson, 281 N.W.2d 481, 487 (Minn. 1979) (stating jury is free to accept or reject witnesses' testimony). The record also shows that prior to deliberations, the court instructed the jury on the presumption of innocence and the meaning of "beyond a reasonable doubt." The jury found Patterson not guilty on the solicitation charges and convicted him on the charge of criminal sexual conduct with regard to J.D. That the jury found him not guilty of the solicitation charges indicates that it acted with due regard for the presumption of innocence. Therefore, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the conviction, we conclude the evidence is sufficient to support Patterson's conviction and the record reflects that the jury acted with due regard for the presumption of innocence.
In addition to sufficiency of the evidence, Patterson argues that (1) the admission of "pre-Mirandized" statements Patterson made regarding prior arrests was improper and prejudicial; and (2) the jury was not able to see the results of a polygraph test that may have favorably impacted determinations of his credibility. However, these arguments are both contained in a single paragraph, wholly without supporting legal authority and with virtually no factual details. Arguments
based on mere assertions and not supported by any argument or authority * * * will not be considered on appeal unless prejudicial error appears obvious on inspection of the record.
State v. Lipscomb, 289 Minn. 511, 513, 183 N.W.2d 790, 792 (1971). Upon careful inspection, no such prejudice is obvious. Therefore, we conclude that these issues were waived.