This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).


State of Minnesota,


Darrell James Walton,

Filed November 30, 1999
Randall, Judge

Stearns County District Court
File No. K5-98-762

Mike Hatch, Attorney General, Robert A. Stanich, Assistant Attorney General, 525 Park Street, Suite 500, St. Paul, MN 55103; and

Roger S. Van Heel, Stearns County Attorney, 448 Administration Center, 705 Courthouse Square, St. Cloud, MN 56303 (for respondent)

Lawrence W. Pry, Assistant State Public Defender, 2829 University Avenue Southeast, Suite 600, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant)

Considered and decided by Schumacher, Presiding Judge, Randall, Judge, and Kalitowski, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


Appellant challenges his second-degree assault conviction, asserting that there is insufficient evidence that he intentionally assaulted the victim. We affirm.


On March 1, 1998, Cheryl Hinkemeyer and Erica Rankka were walking westward across a bridge in St. Cloud. Just as they began crossing, the women were passed by a man who was walking eastward and was near the east end of the bridge. Appellant Darrell Walton, also traveling eastward, was just getting onto the west end of the bridge as the women began crossing. According to Hinkemeyer and Rankka, Walton appeared to be yelling toward the first man, but the first man did not turn around and continued walking. As the two women passed Walton on the bridge, Walton took a knife from his pocket and dropped it on the ground. Hinkemeyer testified that Walton flipped up the knife's blade before dropping the knife, and Rankka testified that Walton opened the knife after picking it up. Both women testified that Walton picked the knife up, called Rankka a "f--king bitch," and sliced Rankka's jacket sleeve. The women continued across the bridge, found a telephone, and called the police.

Walton was arrested and charged with second-degree assault. During an interview with police after his arrest, Walton stated that he and the other man on the bridge had been smoking marijuana and had gotten into an argument. Walton stated that the other man had threatened him and that he had taken out his knife because he was afraid the man would assault him. According to Walton, he was planning to cut the man with the knife when Rankka, who Walton believed was the other man's girlfriend, came up to him and started "talking crazy." Walton stated that he planned to "slice her boyfriend" but "sliced her" instead when she began talking to him.

At trial, Walton again stated that he had been smoking marijuana with the other man and that they had gotten into an argument. He testified that when he encountered the women, he was not following the man but was just going to the Salvation Army shelter. He further testified that as he was crossing the bridge, the man turned around. Fearing that the man was going to start something, Walton pulled out his knife. According to Walton, after dropping the knife on the ground as the women passed, he picked it up and accidentally cut Rankka's jacket. He insisted that he did not call Rankka a "f--king bitch" but said, "Ain't that a bitch" after he accidentally cut the jacket. He testified that although he had previously told police that he cut Rankka intentionally, he was confused because he had not taken his medication that day and had smoked marijuana.[1]

After a bench trial, the district court found Walton guilty of second-degree assault. The district court concluded that Walton used a dangerous weapon in attempting to inflict bodily harm on the victim. Walton challenges his conviction.


When the sufficiency of the evidence is challenged, the appellate court "views the evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict and assumes that the fact finder disbelieved any testimony conflicting with the result reached." State v. Thomas, 590 N.W.2d 755, 757 (Minn. 1999) (citations omitted). The verdict will not be overturned if, giving due regard to the presumption of innocence and to the prosecution's burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the fact-finder could reasonably have found the defendant guilty of the charged offense. Id. at 757-58. Circumstantial evidence is entitled to the same weight as other types of evidence if a thorough review of the record demonstrates that "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. Ostrem, 535 N.W.2d 916, 923 (Minn. 1995) (citations omitted).

Here, Walton's only argument is that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction. He concedes that he cut Rankka's jacket but argues that he "did not intend" to assault her. He asserts that he accidentally cut her jacket after he picked up his knife.

Second-degree assault is defined by statute as assault with a dangerous weapon (it is conceded the knife can qualify as a dangerous weapon). Minn. Stat. § 609.222, subd. 1 (1998). An assault includes "[t]he intentional infliction of or attempt to inflict bodily harm upon another." Minn. Stat. § 609.02, subd. 10 (1998). Intent is generally proved through circumstantial evidence, including inferences drawn "from the defendant's words and actions in light of the totality of the circumstances." State v. Cooper, 561 N.W.2d 175, 179 (Minn. 1997) (citations omitted). The fact-finder

may infer that a person intends the natural and probable consequences of his actions and a defendant's statements as to his intentions are not binding on the jury if his acts demonstrated a contrary intent.

Id. (citation omitted).

Both Hinkemeyer and Rankka testified that as they walked toward Walton, he pulled a knife out of his pocket and dropped it on the ground. According to both women, after picking up the knife, Walton simultaneously slashed Rankka's jacket and called her a "f--king bitch." Rankka testified that Walton looked right at her during the incident.

The district court could have inferred Walton's intent to assault Rankka from the fact that Walton swore at Rankka and looked at her as he slashed her coat. Walton testified he did not swear at her but instead said, "Ain't that a bitch" after he accidentally cut her jacket. It is the district court's role to judge witness credibility and to determine the weight of witness testimony. See State v. Dickerson, 481 N.W.2d 840, 843 (Minn. 1992) (stating fact-finder determines witnesses' credibility and weight to be given testimony), aff'd, 508 U.S. 366, 113 S. Ct. 2130 (1993). Evidence of Walton's intent could also have been drawn from the fact that he removed his knife from his pocket as he approached the women and extended the blade at some point after removing the knife from his pocket. Although Walton testified that he drew his knife because he felt threatened by the other man who had been on the bridge, Rankka testified that the other man was already off the bridge when the women encountered Walton. See State v. Hough, 585 N.W.2d 393, 396 (Minn. 1998) ("A factfinder evaluates the credibility of witnesses and need not credit a defendant's exculpatory testimony."). Importantly, in the statement Walton gave police after his arrest, Walton conceded he intentionally cut Rankka because he thought she was the other man's girlfriend and she was "talking crazy."

Based on the evidence in the record, there is sufficient evidence to affirm the district court’s conclusion that Walton intentionally attempted to cause Rankka bodily harm.


[1] Walton did not raise an intoxication defense at trial and did not raise the issue on appeal. Even if Walton had raised the issue, "the possibility of intoxication does not create the presumption that a person is incapable of intending to commit a certain act." State v. Wahlberg, 296 N.W.2d 408, 418 (Minn. 1980) (citation omitted). Intoxication is only a factor to consider when determining intent. Minn. Stat. § 609.075 (1998).