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,
Emmanuel Gordon Anim,
Filed January 12, 1999
Toussaint, Chief Judge
Hennepin County District Court
File No. 97064668
Amy Klobuchar, Hennepin County Attorney, Gayle C. Hendley, Assistant County Attorney, C-2000 Government Center, 300 South Sixth Street, Minneapolis, MN 55487(for respondent)
John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Susan J. Andrews, Assistant State Public Defender, 2829 University Avenue SE, Suite 600, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Toussaint, Chief Judge, Harten, Judge and Mulally, Judge.[*]
Appellant Emmanuel Gordon Anim challenges his conviction of possession of a controlled substance, pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 152.025, subds. 2(1) and 3(a) (1996). Because the trial court did not err in admitting evidence of Anim's hand gesture to a pedestrian prior to being stopped for a traffic violation and his subsequent arrest for possession of narcotics, we affirm.
Anim argues that the trial court committed reversible error when it allowed police officer Daniel Lainsbury to testify that he focused on Anim's car after he saw Anim make a threatening hand gesture to a pedestrian.
In a criminal case, the general rule is that evidence is inadmissible if it tends to show that the accused has committed another crime independent of that for which he is on trial. State v. Wofford, 262 Minn. 112, 117, 114 N.W.2d 267, 271 (1962). Although this rule should be rigorously enforced, there are certain exceptions where evidence of other crimes or acts are admissible to prove the present charges. Id. One exception is where evidence of other crimes constitutes part of the res gestae. Id. at 118, 114 N.W.2d at 271. However, the evidence must "show a causal relation or connection between the two acts so that they may reasonably be said to be part of the same transaction." Id. 114 N.W.2d at 271-72.
Here, officer Lainsbury testified that prior to stopping Anim for the traffic violations, he observed Anim make what appeared to be a threatening hand gesture, to a pedestrian. This hand gesture caused officer Lainsbury to notice and follow Anim. Anim's gesture was part of the transaction that led to him being stopped for a traffic violation and subsequently arrested. Evidence must be relevant to be admissible. Minn. R. Evid. 401. This evidence is relevant to show how the incident, leading to Anim's arrest transpired.
Contrary to Anim's argument that this evidence was prejudicial because it involved a gang gesture of a threat-to-kill, its probative value was not substantially outweighed by unfair prejudice. See Minn. R. Evid. 403 (relevant evidence may be excluded if its probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice). The purpose of this evidence was to show the jury why Anim drew the attention of the police and was being followed. Its use was limited by a jury instruction and it did not exploit any possible gang affiliations. This evidence is not as prejudicial as was the mention of the defendant's involvement in a robbery in State v. Saucedo, 294 Minn. 289, 200 N.W.2d 37 (1972). Furthermore, even if admission of this evidence was in error, it was harmless because there is no evidence that the outcome would have been different in light of the amount of other incriminating evidence before the jury. See State v. Naylor, 474 N.W.2d 314, 318 (Minn. 1991) (evidentiary errors warrant reversal only if the result might have been different had the evidence not been admitted.
Therefore, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in admitting the evidence of the hand gesture.
[*] Retired judge of the district court, serving as judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.