may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
State of Minnesota,
James Everett Townley,
Filed November 17, 1998
Kanabec County District Court
File No. K3-97-328
Hubert H. Humphrey, III, Attorney General, Nancy J. Bode, Assistant Attorney General, 1400 NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101, and
Norman L. Loren, Kanabec County Attorney, 19 North Vine Street, Mora, MN 55051 (for respondent)
John M. Stuart, Minnesota State Public Defender, Theodora Gaitas, Assistant State Public Defender, Suite 600, 2829 University Avenue S.E., Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Shumaker, Presiding Judge, Crippen, Judge, and Klaphake, Judge.
Appellant James Everett Townley challenges his conviction for malicious punishment of a child on the ground of insufficiency of evidence. We affirm.
At approximately 7:30 p.m. on February 7, 1997, appellant was putting gasoline into his car at a station in Mora, Minnesota. His four minor daughters were inside the car.
Daniel and Suzanne Hansen were inside their car on the opposite side of the same gasoline pump. They observed that after appellant returned to his car from paying for the gasoline he began to hit what appeared to be a dog in the car. He hit the "dog" about five times with a closed fist. The Hansens could see the "dog's" head moving with the blows, and, as they continued to watch, they became aware that the "dog" was a child. They saw appellant grab the child and bring it close to his face, where he appeared to yell at it. Appellant then threw the child into the back seat and swung at it with his fist again three to five more times. The Hansens noted the description of appellant's car and part of his license plate number, left the station, and reported the incident to the police.
Appellant does not deny an incident with one of his daughters, but his account differs significantly from that of the Hansens. He contends that when he came back to the car one of his daughters was hanging halfway out of the car and standing on her sister. He told her to get back inside the car, reached back and put her into the seat, spanked her once on the buttocks, and struggled with the seat belt while trying to buckle her in.
After a trial without a jury, the district court found appellant guilty of malicious punishment of a child in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.377 (1996). Appellant contends that the evidence was insufficient to support the conviction.
This court's review of a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence is limited to
a painstaking analysis of the record to determine whether the evidence, when viewed in a light most favorable to the conviction, was sufficient to permit the jurors to reach the verdict which they did.
State v. Webb, 440 N.W.2d 426, 430 (Minn. 1989). In making this analysis, we do not retry the facts. State v. Thurmer, 348 N.W.2d 776, 778 (Minn. App. 1984).
"A conviction can rest upon the testimony of a single credible witness." State v. Bliss, 457 N.W.2d 385, 390 (Minn. 1990). Determining the credibility of witnesses and the weight to be given to their testimony rests within the province of the trial court. State v. Johnson, 568 N.W.2d 426, 435 (Minn. 1997).
Under Minnesota law, a parent is guilty of malicious punishment of a child if the parent engages in an intentional act or series of acts evidencing unreasonable force or cruel discipline that is excessive under the circumstances. Minn. Stat. § 609.377 (1996).
Appellant argues that he spanked his daughter once and that the "uncorroborated witness testimony of dubious veracity" was insufficient to prove the elements of malicious punishment of a child. The trial court resolved evidentiary conflicts and issues of credibility by accepting the eyewitness version of the incident related by the Hansens. Their version clearly supports the elements of the crime charged.
Appellant also notes that, although the trial court made specific findings on the record, the court did not comply with Minn. R. Crim. P. 26.01, which, appellant contends, requires written findings within seven days after trial. "The purpose of written findings is to aid the appellate court in its review of conviction resulting from a nonjury trial." State v. Scarver, 458 N.W.2d 167, 168 (Minn. App. 1990). The trial court recited orally, on the record, the bases for its decision, including disclosure of how the court resolved credibility issues. There was no prejudice to appellant by the technical omission of written findings. See State v. Thomas, 467 N.W.2d 324, 326-27 (Minn. App. 1991) (holding that a conviction will not be reversed for a technical error unless the accused has been prejudiced).