This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. ß 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
In the Matter of the Welfare of N.A.S.,
Filed October 5, 1999
Le Sueur County District Court
John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Charlann Winking, Assistant State Public Defender, 2829 University Avenue Southeast, Suite 600, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant)
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 525 Park Street, Suite 500, St. Paul, MN 55103; and
Douglas J. Christian, Le Sueur County Attorney, Brent Christian, Assistant County Attorney, 65 South Park Avenue, P.O. Box 156, Le Center, MN 56057 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Lansing, Presiding Judge, Peterson, Judge, and Amundson, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Appellant challenges the district courtís delinquency adjudication for criminal damage to property in the third degree arguing that the evidence was insufficient to establish the value of the property and to identify him as the perpetrator. We affirm.
Appellant N.A.S. was adjudicated delinquent after being found guilty of third-degree criminal damage to property for damage to Stephanie Warnerís automobile during the evening and early morning hours of September 5-6, 1998. On September 5, 1998, Stephanie Warner went to the home of her friend Jenny Jacobs. Warner parked her car in Jacobsí garage. Jacobsí parents were out of town, so they decided to have a party. Approximately twenty people attended the party, including N.A.S, who brought a case of beer. N.A.S. kept the beer in a cooler in the garage near Warnerís car, and N.A.S. and at least one other person drank the beer that he brought to the party.
Late in the evening, Warner and N.A.S. had an argument that ended with the two pushing each other. Following the argument, N.A.S. went into the garage with his friend Beau Kruger. Shortly thereafter, Warner heard a sound that she described as a "breaking noise." Warner left the party to go purchase some pop without first investigating the noise. Approximately two hours later, Warner went into the garage and discovered that a beer bottle had been broken on her car, causing damage.
At 2:30 a.m. Warner called N.A.S. and accused him of breaking the beer bottle on her car. Warner testified that when she asked N.A.S. why he damaged her car, he responded, "It was something I did because you made me mad." N.A.S. testified to the contrary, asserting that his response to Warner was "I tell you what, since I donít know anything, you call someone who does."
D E C I S I O N
Appellant N.A.S. contends that the evidence was insufficient to support his delinquency adjudication. On appeal from an adjudication of delinquency, N.A.S. must show that "the trier of fact could not reasonably find he committed the charged acts." In re Welfare of T.M.V., 368 N.W.2d 421, 423 (Minn. App. 1985). In reviewing a claim of insufficiency of the evidence, an appellate court evaluates the record and the inferences drawn from it, in the light most favorable to the conviction, assuming that the finder of fact believed the stateís witnesses and rejected any contrary evidence. In re Welfare of S.A.M., 570 N.W.2d 162, 167 (Minn. App. 1997). The weight afforded the evidence and the evaluation of the credibility of the witnesses is for the trier of fact. Id.
N.A.S. was adjudicated delinquent for committing the offense of criminal damage to property in the third degree in violation of Minn. Stat. ß 609.595, subd. 2(a) (1998). This offense requires the state to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:
(1) [N.A.S. caused] damage to another personís physical property without the other personís consent; [and]
(2) the damage reduced the value of the property by more than $250 but not more than $500 as measured by the cost of repair and replacement.
Minn. Stat. ß 609.595, subd. 2(a). N.A.S. contends that the state failed to meet its burden of proof in two respects. First, N.A.S. asserts that the evidence was insufficient to show that the damage to Warnerís car exceeded $250. N.A.S. also contends that the state failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that N.A.S. was the person who damaged Warnerís car.
As evidence that the damage to Warnerís car decreased its value by $250, the state produced an estimate prepared by Andersonís Body Shop totaling $454.31. The state also relies on Warnerís testimony as to the reduction in value to her car as a result of the damage. Appellant argues that this evidence was insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the damage to the vehicle reduced its value and that the estimate was improperly admitted at trial. Evidentiary rulings rest within the discretion of the district court and will only be reversed for clear abuse of that discretion. State v. Johnson, 568 N.W.2d 426, 432 (Minn. 1997). At trial, appellant objected to the admission of the estimate for lack of foundation. The district court overruled this objection. Here, foundation was established by the state as detailed by the following questioning of Warner:
Q: Where did you get an estimate for the damage done to the car?
A: In Waterville at Andersonís Body Shop.
Q: Who gave you that estimate?
A: C. V. Anderson.
Q: I am handing you what has been marked as Stateís exhibit number 1. Would you please tell the Court what that is?
A: This is a statement that I got one on my car on September 15th. That says there are $434.31 worth of damage done on it.
Q: When you got this estimate, did you show Mr. Anderson the damage that was done by the beer bottle?
A: Yes. I didnít get an estimate for the dent. I got an estimate for the beer bottle.
While it appears N.A.S. intended to object on the ground that the estimate was inadmissible hearsay, he did not make such an objection. See Roby v. State, 547 N.W.2d 354, 357 (Minn. 1996) (this court will generally not consider matters not argued and considered in the court below). Thus, the district courtís admission of the document over N.A.S.'s lack of foundation objection does not constitute an abuse of its discretion because foundation for the admission of the estimate was adequately established by the state.
Not only did the district court have before it, cost of repair evidence per the estimate, but it also had evidence in the form of Warnerís own opinion testimony as to the diminution in her vehicleís value as a result of the damage. Such testimony was properly admitted pursuant to Minn. R. Evid. 701, which provides:
If the witness is not testifying as an expert, the witnessí testimony in the form of opinions or inferences is limited to those opinions or inferences which are (a) rationally based on the perception of the witnesses and (b) helpful to a clear understanding of the witnessí testimony or the determination of a fact in issue.
Additionally, the court in Vreeman v. Davis, 348 N.W.2d 756, 757 (Minn. 1984), held that the owner of property is competent to give an opinion as to the market value of her property. This includes the property ownerís opinion as to any decrease in the propertyís value. Id. at 757-758. Here, Warner testified that the damage to her vehicle had decreased its value by $500-$1,000. Given that the district court properly admitted the estimate, we hold that it did not abuse its discretion in finding that the state met its burden in establishing beyond a reasonable doubt that the damage to Warnerís vehicle reduced the value of the vehicle by the statutory amount.
N.A.S. asserts that the evidence presented was insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he was the person who damaged Warnerís car. In deciding whether the evidence was sufficient to support a finding that N.A.S. committed the crime, this court must assume the trial court believed the testimony of Warner. S.A.M., 570 N.W.2d at 167. Likewise, this court must assume the trial court disbelieved any testimony by N.A.S. that conflicted with Warnerís testimony. Id.
The evidence presented at trial demonstrated that N.A.S. and several other people were drinking bottles of beer at the party and that everyone at the party had access to the garage. Warner testified and N.A.S. admitted that after their argument, N.A.S. and Kruger went into the garage. While N.A.S. testified that the bottle was already broken on Warnerís car when he went into the garage, Warner testified that she heard the breaking noise shortly after N.A.S. and Kruger entered the garage. Warner also testified that after discovering her car had been damaged, she called N.A.S. and he admitted to committing the offense. N.A.S. testified that he did not break the beer bottle on Warnerís car and did not admit doing so when Warner called him.
The district court had evidence that N.A.S. had a beer bottle, had access to Warnerís car, was in the garage when the breaking noise was heard, and admitted to committing the offense because of feelings of animosity toward Warner. Given that this court must assume the district court found Warnerís testimony to be more credible than the testimony of N.A.S., and because we defer to the trier of fact for credibility determinations, State v. Dickerson, 481 N.W.2d 840, 843 (Minn. 1992), we affirm the district courtís finding that N.A.S. damaged Warnerís car.