This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. §480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).




State of Minnesota,



Daniel Zuehlke,


Filed October 20, 1998


Anderson, Judge

Blue Earth County District Court

File No. K397445

Hubert H. Humphrey III, Attorney General, Paul R. Kempainen, Assistant Attorney General, 1400 NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101; and

Ross E. Arneson, Blue Earth County Attorney, 410 South Fifth Street, P.O. Box 3129, Mankato, MN 56002 (for respondent)

John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Susan K. Maki, Assistant Public Defender, 2829 University Avenue SE, Suite 600, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant)

Considered and decided by Lansing, Presiding Judge, Anderson, Judge, and Thoreen, Judge.*



Because the evidence produced at trial was sufficient to support appellant's convictions for attempted murder in the first and second-degree, we affirm.


After a jury trial, appellant Daniel Zuehlke was convicted of attempted murder in the first and second degree, assault, and attempted robbery. He argues that the evidence produced at trial was insufficient to support his convictions for attempted murder.

The victim, Joshua Reiter, and his girlfriend, Tanya Brooks, testified at trial. In the early morning hours of March 4, 1997, they were at the home of a friend in Mankato. When Reiter and Brooks went outside to retrieve cigarettes from Brooks' car, Reiter was met by someone in the backyard who demanded money and pulled a gun. Reiter attempted to flee toward a nearby Super America. While he was running away, he was struck in the buttocks by a bullet. Brooks heard three shots fired. Neither Reiter nor Brooks were able to identify the shooter. Further, they were not certain that only one person was in the yard that night and thought, from the commotion and noise, there could have been two persons present.

Officer Stuehrenberg testified that, because of a light snowfall the night of the crime, he was able to identify a distinctive set of shoe prints that led to the house, to the scene of the shooting, and then away from the house. He saw only one set of shoe prints. The officer followed the prints over a strenuous and convoluted path that eventually led to appellant. Appellant was flushed, sweaty, and scratched. The soles of appellant's shoes matched the tracks the officer had been following. Later, the officer retraced the tracks and located the gun that was used in the shooting, hidden under a garbage can.

Expert testimony matched the spent shells found at the crime scene to the gun found under the garbage can. Expert testimony identified appellant's fingerprint on the gun. Expert testimony also verified that appellant's hands contained gunpowder residue.

Appellant testified to the following. He admitted being in the backyard of the home where Reiter was shot, admitted that the footprints were his, and admitted that he had hidden the gun under the garbage can. However, he denied shooting Reiter and claimed that Chad Smith was with him that night and Smith shot Reiter. Appellant stated that he sells marijuana and Reiter had contacted appellant earlier in the evening to make a purchase. Appellant agreed to meet Reiter in the backyard of the Mankato home and then proceeded to try to find some marijuana to sell. Appellant met Smith that evening at the Super America across the street from where Reiter was staying. Smith lived elsewhere but occasionally came to Mankato and supplied appellant with marijuana. Smith had marijuana with him and agreed to sell it to Reiter if Reiter paid appellant money he owed from an earlier purchase. Appellant and Smith went to the house and waited. When Reiter came out and told them he had no money, Smith pulled out a gun and started to shoot at Reiter. Appellant pulled the gun away from Smith, tried to disable it by removing the clip, ran away, and hid the gun.

Reiter testified that he did not know appellant before appellant's arrest for the shooting and that he had never purchased marijuana from appellant.


We review the record in a light most favorable to the jury's verdict when determining the sufficiency of the evidence. State v. Webb, 440 N.W.2d 426, 430 (Minn. 1989). Circumstantial evidence may prove a charge as long as the circumstances are inconsistent with any rational hypothesis other than the defendant's guilt. Id. Appellant argues that the state failed to prove that he shot Reiter and, even if he did shoot, that he shot with intent to kill.

Appellant argues that he explained away the presence of his fingerprints on the gun and gun residue on his hands. However, when viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the jury's verdict, it is clear that the jury did not believe appellant's story. The evidence that appellant was present at the crime scene, that his fingerprints were on the gun that injured Reiter, and that gun powder residue was found on appellant's hands shortly after the shooting, was sufficient to support the jury's conclusion that appellant fired the gun that injured Reiter. See State v. Whittaker, 568 N.W.2d 440, 452-53 (Minn. 1997) (defendant's argument that he just happened to meet up with person who turned out to be killer could be rejected by jury as not rational hypothesis and remaining circumstantial evidence was consistent with defendant's guilt).

Appellant was convicted of both attempted first- and second-degree murder. Both require an intent to kill. Minn. Stat. §§ 609.185(3) (1996) (first degree requires intent to effect death while committing or attempting to commit aggravated robbery); 609.19(1) (1996) (second degree requires intent to effect death of person).

"With intent to" * * * means that the actor either has a purpose to do the thing or cause the result specified or believes that the act, if successful, will cause that result.

Minn. Stat. § 609.02, subd. 9(4) (1996). A jury may infer that persons intend the natural and probable consequences of their actions. State v. Cooper, 561 N.W.2d 175, 179 (Minn. 1997).

Appellant argues, based on Reiter's injury, that the jury could only conclude that the shooter intended to injure Reiter, not kill him. However, the relevant inquiry is "could a reasonable jury conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that * * * the only reasonable inference to be drawn from all the evidence" is an intent to kill. Id. Viewing the evidence in favor of the verdict, appellant shot the gun at least three times at Reiter as he attempted to run away. This evidence is sufficient to support the jury's finding that appellant intended to kill Reiter. See id. (multiple shots at victim as victim attempts to escape support intent to kill); State v. Boitnott, 443 N.W.2d 527, 532 (Minn. 1989) (relevant fact is manner of shooting); State v. Bryant, 281 N.W.2d 712, 714 (Minn. 1979) (sufficient evidence of intent to kill where defendant fired three shots, last two at close range and with gun pointed at victim).

Appellant's reliance on State v. Schmitz, 559 N.W.2d 701 (Minn. App. 1997), review denied (Minn. Apr. 15, 1977), is misplaced. Schmitz involved a charge of attempted domestic abuse murder, and we held that, because domestic abuse murder requires only general intent, the state failed to prove the specific intent required for an attempt. Id. at 704. Further, that case did not involve repeatedly shooting at a victim at close range. See id. (repeated beatings exhibited extreme indifference but did not establish requisite specific intent).


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