This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

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




In the Matter of the Welfare of: J.G.F.

Filed July 1, 1997


Schultz, Judge


Meeker County District Court

File No. J3-96-50199

John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Evan W. Jones, Assistant State Public Defender, 2829 University Avenue SE, Suite 600, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant J.G.F.)

Hubert H. Humphrey III, State Attorney General, 1400 NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent State of Minnesota)

Michael J. Thompson, Meeker County Attorney, Meeker County Courthouse, 325 Sibley Avenue North, Litchfield, MN 55355 (for respondent State of Minnesota)

Considered and decided by Peterson, Presiding Judge, Norton, Judge, and Schultz, Judge.



Appellant J.G.F., a juvenile, challenges the district court's adjudication of delinquency, arguing insufficiency of the evidence. We affirm.


Jesse Smith met appellant J.G.F., J.G.F.'s cousin, and Sarah Mullesch at a park on August 9, 1996. Smith bought some beer, and they all returned to Smith's home to drink it and listen to music on Smith's new stereo. The three discussed buying Smith's stereo from him and said they would return later. Smith told them he might be visiting his girlfriend in South Dakota. Smith left a note on the door at 9:30 p.m. saying that he had gone and that he had left their belongings in the laundry room. Despite leaving the note, he decided to stay at home.

Later that night, Smith called 911 reporting that someone was breaking into his apartment. He was in the apartment, watching television with the lights off, when he heard some people trying to open the door. He ran to his closet with the telephone and made his 911 call. There was also a crowbar in the closet. Smith came out of the closet, found J.G.F. in his bedroom using a cigarette lighter for illumination. Smith used the crowbar on J.G.F., apparently to little effect, because J.G.F. and two companions ran away. The police found scraping and marks on the door consistent with those made during a break-in. J.G.F. was found a week later in Oklahoma.

J.G.F. was charged with first-degree burglary. He was adjudicated delinquent on that charge. This appeal followed.


On an appeal from an adjudication of delinquency, the appellant 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). When the sufficiency of the evidence is challenged, this court views the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution. In re Welfare of G.L.M., 347 N.W.2d 84, 85 (Minn. App. 1984).

J.G.F. argues that there was legally insufficient evidence for the district court to make an adjudication of delinquency on the charge of first-degree burglary. J.G.F. claims that the evidence in his case was circumstantial and, without other criteria being met, is insufficient to support a delinquency adjudication. The Minnesota Supreme Court has held that convictions based on circumstantial evidence "warrant particular scrutiny" and that the appellate court

must ask whether the reasonable inferences legitimately drawn from the circumstantial evidence presented at trial "are consistent with [appellant's] guilt and inconsistent with any rational hypothesis except that of guilt."

State v. Scharmer, 501 N.W.2d 620, 621-22 (Minn. 1993), quoting State v. Drieman, 457 N.W.2d 703, 711 (Minn. 1990). J.G.F. claims that the evidence that he and his friends broke into Smith's apartment is circumstantial, arguing that the damage to the door could have been done by Smith's roommate. J.G.F. also says that the stereo receipt in J.G.F.'s cousin's sock was evidence of their intent to buy the stereo, not evidence of intending to steal it. J.G.F. also argues that his fleeing the state was not evidence of guilt, but of his fear of being wrongly linked to a burglary.

J.G.F. focuses his argument of insufficiency of the evidence on that evidence proving his intent to burglarize. Intent is an element of the first-degree burglary offense charged here. See Minn. Stat. § 609.582, subd. 1 (1996). J.G.F. argues that the primary evidence showing his intent was the discussion regarding purchasing Smith's stereo. He contends that such evidence does not show criminal intent to burglarize. Intent is determined from a defendant's "'words (if any) and actions in the light of all the surrounding circumstances.'" State v. Hardimon, 310 N.W.2d 564, 566 (Minn. 1981) (quoting W. LaFave & A. Scott, Criminal Law at 203 (1972)). It was not unreasonable for the district court to determine that J.G.F.'s actions--breaking into an apartment presumed to be empty and fleeing upon discovery by Smith--in the light of all the surrounding circumstances (the break-in occurring after having a discussion about Smith's stereo earlier that day) indicated intent.

Circumstantial evidence was not the sole type of evidence in this case. Smith also identified J.G.F. after chasing and hitting him with a crowbar in Smith's apartment, and the state presented photographs of the door frame. Further, the inference taken from the sum of the circumstantial evidence is consistent with J.G.F.'s delinquency and inconsistent with any other rational inference. Most importantly, credibility played a large role in determining this case. This court defers to the fact-finder on credibility assessments. In re Welfare of T.J.D., 351 N.W.2d 382, 384 (Minn. App. 1984).


[ ]* Retired judge of the district court, serving as judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.