This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).





State of Minnesota,



Vinette Burrlynn Crowley,

Respondent (CX-96-1526),

Emilio Cordova Mendoza, Jr.,

Respondent (C1-96-1527).

Filed January 21, 1997


Davies, Judge

Short, Judge, Concurring Specially

Carlton County District Court

File Nos. K095822, K995821

Marvin E. Ketola, Carlton County Attorney, Thomas H. Pertler, Assistant Carlton County Attorney, P.O. Box 300, Carlton, MN 55718-0300 (for Appellant)

Richard P. Holmstrom, 508 Alworth Bldg., 306 W. Superior St., Suite 508, Duluth, MN 55802 (for Respondent Crowley)

John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Lawrence Hammerling, Deputy State Public Defender, 2829 University Ave. S.E., Suite 600, Minneapolis, MN 55414-3230 (for Respondent Mendoza)

Considered and decided by Davies, Presiding Judge, Huspeni, Judge, and Short, Judge.



The State appeals from a decision of the district court dismissing indictments against respondents for murder in the first degree. We affirm.


A Carlton County grand jury indicted respondents Mendoza and Crowley for murder in the first degree in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.185(1) (1994) for the death of Denise Daly. Daly's 1979 death was considered a suicide until 1994 when the Carlton County Sheriff's Department received an anonymous tip implicating Mendoza and Crowley.

After the grand jury returned indictments against Mendoza and Crowley for first-degree murder, they moved to dismiss the indictments, arguing that venue in Carlton County was improper and citing irregularities in the grand jury proceedings. The district court ruled that venue in Carlton County was appropriate, but it dismissed the indictments, ruling that the grand jury proceedings were tainted by irregularity.

The State challenges the district court's finding that procedural irregularities required dismissal of the indictments. Both respondents have challenged the venue ruling.

The parties do not dispute Minnesota's jurisdiction over the matter.


In a State's appeal of a pretrial order in a criminal matter, we must determine whether the State has demonstrated

clearly and unequivocally that the trial court has erred in its judgment and that, unless reversed, the error will have a critical impact on the outcome of the trial.

State v. Plummer, 511 N.W.2d 36, 37-38 (Minn. App. 1994) (quoting State v. Webber, 262 N.W.2d 157, 159 (Minn. 1977)).

The State presented no evidence that the district court's decision compromised the State's ability to prosecute the case. The errors cited by the district court are curable and do not present any legal impediment to the State in presenting the charges to a new grand jury; it is clear the district court considered the errors curable. See State v. Roers, 520 N.W.2d 752, 755 (Minn. App. 1994) (dismissing case for noncurable defects critically impacts outcome because it prevents reindictment, eliminating possibility of successful prosecution), review denied (Minn. Oct. 14, 1994). Because the State may seek a new indictment, dismissal of the indictments had no critical impact. We affirm.

Although it is unnecessary to decide the issue of venue, that issue will arise if the State reindicts. We, therefore, in light of our basis for decision, address it in fairness to respondents and in the interest of judicial economy. Respondents argue that venue in Carlton County is improper because, although Daly was found near death on a Carlton County road, she died in St. Louis County where she was taken for treatment. The only evidence regarding the fatal injuries Daly sustained indicate that she was injured in Wisconsin and transported to Minnesota.

Minnesota Rule of Criminal Procedure 24.02, subdivision 4, states:

If an act is committed either within or without the limits of the state and injury or death results, the offense may be prosecuted and tried in the county of this state where the injury or death occurs, or the body of the deceased is found.

In other words, venue is proper in the county where the body was found even if the death or death blows occurred elsewhere. State v. Smith, 421 N.W.2d 315, 320 (Minn. 1988).

The district court ruled that the act of leaving Daly's body by the side of the road was an "injury" within the meaning of the rule. That ruling stretches the facts. Venue is nonetheless proper in Carlton County, for the rule should be read to confer venue on the county where the victim was found, whether the victim was deceased at the time or not. This reading of the venue rule comports with the legislature's apparent desire to cure the common law venue problem that arose when an offense implicated multiple counties. See State v. Krejci, 458 N.W.2d 407, 410 n.3 (Minn. 1990) (noting that many states have enacted special venue statutes to avoid common law rule that murder trial could only be held where fatal blow was inflicted). There is no constitutional requirement that "'command[s] a single exclusive venue'" when an offense implicates more than one location. Id. (quoting United States v. Reed, 773 F.2d 477, 480 (2d Cir. 1985)).

Furthermore, Carlton County is a convenient forum for this action. See Smith, 421 N.W.2d at 320 (venue deals with convenience and location of trial rather than with power of court to hear action). Carlton County provides ready access to many of the law enforcement and medical personnel who were present at the scene in 1979.

We affirm the decision of the district court regarding venue.


SHORT, Judge (concurring specially)

I concur in the majority opinion only insofar as it concludes the state has shown no critical impact from the dismissal of the indictments. Under these circumstances, I would affirm the trial court's decision.