This opinion will be unpublished and
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,
Jeffrey Alan Truelson,
Filed October 26, 1999
Meeker County District Court
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, Robert A. Stanich, Assistant Attorney General, 1400 NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101; and
Michael J. Thompson, Meeker County Attorney, 325 North Sibely Avenue, Litchfield, MN 55355 (for respondent)
John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Chad M. Oldfather, Assistant State Public Defender, 2829 University Avenue Southeast, Suite 600, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Amundson, Presiding Judge, Lansing, Judge, and Peterson, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Appellant challenges his conviction for five criminal offenses, including criminal sexual conduct in the first degree, arguing that the evidence was insufficient to link him to the crime.
The alleged offense occurred on June 24, 1998. Appellant Jeffrey Truelson was charged with five offenses: (1) criminal sexual conduct in the first degree in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.342, subd. 1(c); (2) criminal sexual conduct in the first degree in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.342, subd. 1(e)(i); (3) terroristic threats in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.713, subd. 1; (4) assault in the third degree in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.223. subd. 1; and (5) receiving stolen property in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.53, subd. (3)2.
Around 8:00 p.m. on the day of the incident, K.S. went for a bike ride. While riding her bike on the gravel road near her house, she heard a car behind her and moved to the side of the road. K.S. suddenly found herself at the bottom of a muddy ditch. When she looked up, she saw a strange man she later identified as Truelson, quickly coming toward her. He told her he had a gun, got on top of her, and began pulling at her clothes with one hand while covering her mouth with his other hand. Truelson repeatedly told K.S. to "Shut up. Shut up or I am going to kill you." Truelson digitally assaulted K.S. and then began pulling her toward the car. K.S. struggled and attempted to get away throughout the assault. She eventually escaped as Truelson was trying to force her into his car, and she ran home, and told her father what had happened and they called the police.
K.S. identified Truelson from a group of photos shown to her directly after the incident. She also described a light blue vehicle driven by her attacker. Truelson admitted stealing a light blue car on the day of the incident. Truelson argues that K.S.’s identification was incorrect, and that, among other things, the car he stole was not the one K.S. described. Truelson also argues that he is being wrongly accused and that the evidence was insufficient to support the jury’s verdict.
D E C I S I O N
In reviewing the sufficiency of evidence to support a conviction, an appellate court does not retry the facts. Rather, this court 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 [trier of fact] to reach the verdict [it] did.
State v. Webb, 440 N.W.2d 426, 430 (Minn. 1989). This court must assume the trier of fact "believed the state’s witnesses and disbelieved any evidence to the contrary." State v. Spaeth, 552 N.W.2d 187, 192 (Minn. 1996).
The court must determine whether a jury could reasonably conclude that the defendant was guilty, based on the facts in the record and any legitimate inferences from those facts, giving due regard to the presumption of innocence and the state’s burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. State v. Wallace, 558 N.W.2d 469, 472 (Minn. 1997). 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).
Truelson argues that K.S. mistakenly identified him as her attacker. He argues that although he stole a light blue vehicle on the day of the incident, he had no shirt on and his pants were wet from an accident in another vehicle that occurred earlier that day. Truelson argues that because K.S. did not note that her attacker’s pants were wet and because she believed that her attacker was wearing a white shirt, he could not have been the attacker. Truelson also argues that K.S. identified the light blue vehicle driven by her attacker as a Dodge or Chrysler, but that he had stolen a Subaru. He further notes three additional inconsistencies: (1) that K.S. identified her assailant’s car as having a sticky calendar on the dashboard while the stolen Subaru did not; (2) that Truelson did not have any scratches or marks on him at the time of arrest despite K.S.’s claim that she fought and scratched her attacker; and (3) that K.S. hesitantly selected Truelson’s picture out of a photographic lineup directly after the accident, but then identified him in the courtroom with apparent certainty.
K.S. told officers that during the attack she resisted her attacker by kicking, scratching, and biting him. She described her attacker as tall and somewhat overweight. She stated that she believed he was wearing a sleeveless or short-sleeved white shirt and dark blue jeans. She also believed the suspect was wearing boots. She described her attacker as having really big eyes, believing they were either green or blue, and having really bad teeth.
At trial, K.S. testified that she thought her attacker was more than six feet tall and about 200 or 215 pounds. She again stated that she thought he was wearing a sleeveless or short-sleeved white shirt, and darker blue or black jeans. K.S. described the attacker’s vehicle as a light blue, older model, small station wagon. She again stated that she fought her attacker and described him as having long, stringy hair; really, really big eyes that were an odd shade of blue-gray; and that he smelled like he needed a shower. A glance at the six photographs used for identification purposes demonstrates that Truelson’s eyes are very distinctive. K.S. also testified that she was in shock directly after the incident and may have confused some of her memory of the attack. Finally, K.S. stated there was no question in her mind who here attacker was.
The jury is in the best position to judge the credibility of the witnesses. See State v. Johnson, 568 N.W.2d 426, 436 (Minn. 1997) (explaining that the jury is the sole judge of credibility and is permitted to accept eyewitness testimony even if there are discrepancies). The jury simply did not believe Truelson’s testimony and found him guilty. Ultimately, it comes down to K.S.’s testimony against Truelson’s testimony. She was able to describe his height, weight, hair, teeth, and eyes, with accuracy and detail. The jury clearly believed K.S. We view the evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict and thus assume the jury believed the state’s witnesses. There are sufficient facts and legitimate inferences drawn from those facts to reasonably lead the jury to convict Truelson.