This opinion will be unpublished and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: Keno Larson.

Filed March 3, 1998


Lansing, Judge

Hennepin County District Court

File No. P29760023

Ronald L. Thorsett, 7328 Ontario Boulevard, Eden Prairie, MN 55346 (for appellant Larson)

Michael O. Freeman, Hennepin County Attorney, Karen Roesler, Assistant County Attorney, Rebecca S. Rognrud, Staff Attorney, A-2000 Government Center, Minneapolis, MN 55487 (for respondent county)

Considered and decided by Lansing, Presiding Judge, Crippen, Judge, and Peterson, Judge.



In an appeal from commitment as mentally ill and dangerous, Keno Larson argues he did not engage in an overt act causing or attempting to cause serious physical harm. The record supports the district court's findings on the statutory criteria, and we affirm.


Keno Larson broke into an occupied residence in Edina and remained in the house until he was discovered by the homeowner approximately six hours later. When the homeowner entered the room where Larson was hiding, he threatened her with a butcher knife and, still brandishing the knife, attempted to subdue and restrain her. The force used by Larson during the attack inflicted multiple bruises. Larson fled but was later apprehended and charged with one count of first degree burglary and one count of second degree assault.

While being held in the Hennepin County Adult Detention Center on the assault and burglary charges, Larson assaulted a deputy sheriff. The deputy's wounds required 11 stitches. As a result of this incident, Larson was charged with one count of third degree assault and one count of fourth degree assault.

The district court found Larson incompetent to stand trial and petitioned for a commitment hearing to determine if Larson was mentally ill or mentally ill and dangerous. The documentary evidence and expert testimony at the initial commitment hearing and the review hearing indicated that Larson has a lengthy juvenile and adult criminal record and had been incarcerated in Stillwater, Oak Park Heights, and the Minnesota Correctional Facility - St. Cloud. He has also been placed in various juvenile facilities and the St. Peter Security Hospital. Larson has previously been diagnosed with several psychological and psychiatric disorders, including attention deficit disorder, conduct disorder, and, most recently, schizophrenia, paranoid type. Experts from both the Hennepin County Medical Center and St. Peter testified that Larson currently suffers from paranoid schizophrenia.

At the initial hearing, the court committed Larson as mentally ill and dangerous. Following the review hearing, the district court committed Larson for an indeterminate period to the Minnesota Security Hospital as mentally ill and dangerous. Larson appeals the determination that he is dangerous.


Involuntary commitment as mentally ill and dangerous is justified when a person is mentally ill and as a result of the mental illness presents a clear danger to the safety of others as demonstrated by an overt act causing or attempting to cause serious physical harm to another, and there is a substantial likelihood that the person will engage in acts capable of inflicting serious physical harm on another. Minn. Stat. § 253B.02, subd. 17 (1996). The statutory criteria for mentally ill and dangerous must be proved by clear and convincing evidence. Minn. Stat. § 253B.18, subd. 1 (Supp. 1997). Whether the evidence is sufficient to prove an overt act is a question of law subject to de novo review. In re Knops, 536 N.W.2d 616, 620 (Minn. 1995).

Larson concedes that he is mentally ill, but argues he did not commit an overt act that inflicted or was intended to inflict serious physical harm. As support for this argument, Larson relies on a distinction between "physical harm" and "serious physical harm" discussed by the supreme court in In re Kottke, 433 N.W.2d 881, 884 (Minn. 1988). Unlike Kottke's two isolated incidents of using his fists to cause minor injuries, however, Larson has a history of violent acts, and the overt violent acts supporting this petition caused more than minor injuries.

The evidence at the hearing demonstrated that Larson broke into a family home where four people were sleeping. He remained in the house for several hours and, when discovered, threatened the homeowner with a large butcher knife and assaulted her when she tried to get away. While in detention, Larson punched a deputy in the mouth, in the left eye, and on the bridge of his nose, causing multiple injuries. The injuries included a one-inch laceration over his left eye causing a permanent scar, a cut on his nose, and a cut through his upper lip caused by one of his teeth being pushed through his lip. The deputy's injuries required eleven stitches.

An overt dangerous act capable of causing serious physical harm to another satisfies the statutory requirement. See In re Jasmer, 447 N.W.2d 192, 195 (Minn. 1989). Larson not only committed acts capable of causing serious physical harm, but caused serious physical harm within the common understanding of "serious." See Kottke, 433 N.W.2d at 884 (applying the word "serious" in section 253B.02, subd. 17(b)(i), consistent with the common understanding of the word). The district court record supports its finding that Larson is mentally ill and dangerous.