STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
State of Minnesota,
Rodney Dean Campbell,
Filed February 9, 1999
Anoka County District Court
File No. K69711332
Robert M. A. Johnson, Anoka County Attorney, Marcy S. Crain, Assistant County Attorney, Anoka County Government Center, 2100 Third Avenue, Anoka, MN 55303-2265 (for respondent)
John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Bradford S. Delapena, Assistant Public Defender, 2829 University Avenue Southeast, Suite 600, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Lansing, Presiding Judge, Schumacher, Judge, and Willis, Judge.
Rodney Dean Campbell appeals his conviction of fleeing a police officer in a motor vehicle, claiming the evidence was insufficient as a matter of law. We affirm.
Campbell sped through the parking lot and onto the street leading to his apartment complex. As the officer followed Campbell around the store, the line of vision between the two cars was momentarily interrupted. The officer continued to follow Campbell at distances ranging from half a block to a block until Campbell pulled into the apartment complex parking lot, exited his vehicle, and started running. The officer said that he yelled for Campbell to stop, and Campbell looked back but kept running. Police searched the area but could not find Campbell. The next day, Campbell turned himself in to the Blaine Police Department, telling another officer that he was the one who ran from the police the night before.
A jury convicted Campbell of fleeing an officer in a motor vehicle under Minn. Stat. § 609.487, subd. 3 (1998). The court sentenced him to one year and one day of incarceration and a $1,000 fine, but stayed the sentence and gave him two years of probation. Campbell appeals.
A conviction based on circumstantial evidence, however, merits stricter scrutiny. Spaeth, 552 N.W.2d at 192. Although circumstantial evidence is entitled to the same weight as other evidence, we will sustain the verdict on appeal when the reasonable inferences from such evidence are consistent only with the defendant's guilt and inconsistent with any rational hypothesis except that of guilt. State v. Bias, 419 N.W.2d 480, 484 (Minn. 1988). This standard does not mean a mere possibility of innocence is enough to find insufficient evidence. The hypothesis must be rational. We recognize that a jury normally is in the best position to evaluate circumstantial evidence and their verdict is entitled to due deference. State v. Webb, 440 N.W.2d 426, 430 (Minn. 1989).
A jury convicted Campbell of fleeing an officer in a motor vehicle under Minn. Stat. § 609.487, subd. 3. He argues that the evidence is insufficient to satisfy the statutory definition of "flee." Minn. Stat. § 609.487, subd. 1 (1998) defines flee as meaning:
to increase speed, extinguish motor vehicle headlights or taillights, or to use other means with intent to attempt to elude a peace officer following a signal given by any peace officer to the driver of a motor vehicle.
Id. Campbell argues that it is possible he did not see the officer activate his emergency lights to signal him to stop because his line of sight was interrupted when going around the store.
Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the jury's verdict, Campbell's argument is not reasonable. Campbell has admitted he "assumed" the officer was behind him and admitted he was trying to get home before the officer could pull him over. See State v. Dahm, 394 N.W.2d 589, 591 (Minn. App. 1986) (attempting to get home is not excuse for fleeing an officer).
Campbell admitted he increased his speed to over 70 miles per hour in an attempt to evade the officer and there were times when the officer was as close as half a block behind him, although he claims the officer did not have emergency lights activated at that time. Campbell also admitted to running away on foot after he pulled into the parking lot. The jury could properly conclude from these admissions alone that Campbell intended to flee. See State v. Whisonant, 331 N.W.2d 766, 768 (Minn. 1983) (intent may be determined from person's actions in light of surrounding circumstances); see also State v. Erdman, 383 N.W.2d 331, 334 (Minn. App. 1986) (jury could properly conclude failure to answer knock at door indicated intent to flee), review denied (Minn. Apr. 24, 1996).
In addition, the jury heard the testimony of both the officer who pursued Campbell and the officer who took Campbell's statement at the time he turned himself in. The first officer testified that though the cars were going around corners, he managed to come within a block of Campbell with his emergency lights activated at more than one point. He also testified that Campbell was speeding during the pursuit. The officer claimed that when Campbell started running on foot, the officer shouted for him to stop, and although Campbell looked back, he did not stop. The second officer testified that Campbell came into the police station the next day to turn himself in and admitted to being the person who fled from the police the night before.
Though Campbell has demonstrated a possibility that he did not see the officer's lights, such a possibility is not rational or consistent with the evidence as a whole. The circumstantial evidence of Campbell's guilt, viewed in the light most favorable to the jury's verdict, was sufficient to permit a reasonable jury to find him guilty.