State of Minnesota, Respondent, vs. Darrin James Cain, Appellant.
This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2000).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALSC2-00-1431
State of Minnesota,
Darrin James Cain,
Filed May 8, 2001Affirmed Willis, Judge
Olmsted County District Court
File No. K9993403
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 525 Park Street, Suite 500, St. Paul, MN 55103; and
Terry L. Adkins, Rochester City Attorney, Peter D. Magnuson, Assistant City Attorney, 201 Fourth Street Southeast, Room 247, Rochester, MN 55904 (for respondent)
John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Susan K. Maki, Assistant State Public Defender, 2829 University Avenue S.E., Suite 600, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Amundson, Presiding Judge, Klaphake, Judge, and Willis, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Appellant challenges his conviction of gross-misdemeanor theft, arguing that the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to support his conviction. Because there is sufficient evidence to support the conviction, we affirm.FACTS
On September 14, 1999, a red "Giant"-brand mountain bike was stolen from a parking lot located near the Mayo Medical Center in Rochester. The bicycle's owner immediately notified Mayo security and the police when she realized it was missing. Mayo's surveillance cameras captured the theft on videotape. The hazy images show a man on a white bicycle approaching the bike rack at 7:30 a.m. He was wearing a dark baseball hat and a denim jacket, and had long hair. The thief took the red mountain bike and came back later that morning for the white bicycle, which he had left behind.
Four days later, on September 18, surveillance cameras monitoring the same area captured a clear image of appellant Darrin J. Cain looking through a pack attached to a bicycle that was locked to the bike rack. Because Cain matched the description of the person who stole the mountain bike, Mayo security dispatched two guards to the scene, where they found Cain removing items from the bike pack. Cain first told a security guard and police officers on the scene that the bicycle and the pack belonged to his brother. He then changed his explanation, saying first that the bicycle belonged to his cousin and then that it belonged to a "relative." While the police were questioning Cain, the owner of the bicycle, who was not related to Cain, arrived in the parking lot.
One of the security guards also served as a volunteer with Olmsted County, in which capacity he had previous dealings with Cain. The guard informed the police that he had given the videotapes from September 14 and 18 to Cain's probation officer, believing that he might be able to identify Cain.
The police reviewed the videotapes with Cain's probation officer, and based on the probation officer's opinion that the September 14 videotape showed Cain stealing the bicycle, a police officer went to Cain's apartment. Cain denied stealing the mountain bike, claiming that he "knew nothing about a stolen bicycle" and that he did not own a denim jacket. Cain was charged with the theft of the bicycle, to which he pleaded not guilty at a December 1999 hearing. In January 2000, Cain went to the Rochester Police Department to present "new facts" to the police. He told an officer that he and his brother, Lonny, left Cain's apartment at 7:30 a.m. together on the day of the theft. He explained that Lonny was wearing a dark baseball hat and a denim jacket that morning. Cain claimed that at approximately 8:00 a.m. Lonny came to see him at work to tell him that he had just stolen a mountain bike and that he wanted to keep it at Cain's apartment. Cain described the bike that his brother had allegedly stolen as an "orangish" Giant mountain bike.
A jury convicted Cain of gross-misdemeanor theft, under Minn. Stat. § 609.52, subds. 2(1) and 3(4) (2000). This appeal followed.D E C I S I O N
Cain argues that the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction. The standard for overturning a conviction for insufficiency of the evidence is "a high one." State v. Huss, 506 N.W.2d 290, 292 (Minn. 1993). In considering a claim of insufficient evidence, a reviewing court's only inquiry is whether, on the facts in the record and the legitimate inferences to be drawn from those facts, a jury could reasonably conclude that the defendant was guilty. State v. Bias, 419 N.W.2d 480, 484 (Minn. 1988). The court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict and assume that "the jury believed the state's witnesses and disbelieved any contrary evidence." Id. (citation omitted). The evidence as a whole need not exclude all possibility that another person committed the crime, but it must make that theory appear unreasonable. See State v. Anderson, 379 N.W.2d 70, 78 (Minn. 1985).
Cain argues that (1) the video images captured on September 14 were "of such poor quality that there is simply no way [Cain's] probation officer or the one security officer could identify him," (2) there were no witnesses to the theft, and (3) the circumstantial evidence presented "was not so convincing." He asserts that the state did not meet its burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that he stole the mountain bike and that his conviction must therefore be reversed.
While a conviction based on circumstantial evidence warrants stricter scrutiny, circumstantial evidence is entitled to the same weight as any other evidence as long as "the circumstances proved are consistent with the hypothesis that the accused is guilty and inconsistent with any rational hypothesis except that of guilt." State v. Ashby, 567 N.W.2d 21, 27 (Minn. 1997) (quotation omitted). Cain's contentions that the video images were of "poor quality" and that there were no eyewitnesses do not preclude a determination that he committed the crime.
The state presented a surveillance tape showing a person matching Cain's description stealing the mountain bike and a second tape showing a clear image of Cain in the same area four days later, attempting to steal from a bike pack. The jury heard a Mayo security guard testify that Mayo security "expected him to come back. * * * [Thieves] always do. We've caught everybody for the last two-and-a-half to three years."
Cain's probation officer testified that (1) it was his belief that Cain is the person seen on the videotape stealing the bicycle; (2) although the images captured on September 14 were not clear, they show a man with long hair wearing a denim jacket and a dark baseball hat; (3) he has seen Cain wearing "denim material jackets" and "a dark-colored baseball cap"; and (4) he did not believe that Cain's brother was the man on the videotape because Lonny, whom he also knew, "had darker hair" and is "larger, taller" than Cain.
The security guard who had previously dealt with Cain testified that the video images were clear enough to show that it was Cain in the video images, not Cain's brother. He also noted that clear images taken of Cain on September 18 show that, like the thief in the September 14 video, he had long hair and that he was wearing a dark baseball cap.
In addition, the jury was told that Cain usually arrived at work between 7:30 a.m. and 7:45 a.m. and that it took him 10 minutes to get to work by bicycle. Cain's employer testified that on September 14, the day the mountain bike was stolen, Cain arrived at work at 7:50 a.m. He also testified that he had seen Cain ride a "maroon" bicycle to work that day and that he had seen him ride a white bicycle in the past.
Further, the police officer who interviewed Cain at his apartment testified that although Cain denied owning a denim jacket, when Cain opened a closet at the officer's request, the officer saw a denim jacket. Another officer testified that when Cain went to the police station to implicate his brother, Cain was able to describe the mountain bike in great detail, even though he asserts that he did not allow his brother to keep the bicycle at his apartment.
Viewing the evidence in a light most favorable to the verdict, the record supports Cain's conviction.
 The jury was not informed that the witness was Cain's probation officer because the judge felt that it would be prejudicial if the jury knew that Cain was on probation. The jury was told only that the witness was a county employee who had dealt with Cain numerous times in the past.