State of Minnesota, Respondent, vs. Justin David Meyer, Appellant.
This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2002).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALSC1-02-1019
State of Minnesota,
Justin David Meyer,
Filed July 1, 2003
Kandiyohi County District Court
File No. KX01552
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, Thomas R. Ragatz, Assistant Attorney General, Susan E. Damon, Assistant Attorney General, Suite 500, 525 Park Street, St. Paul, MN 55103; and
Boyd Beccue, Kandiyohi County Attorney, 316 Southwest Fourth Street, Willmar, MN 56201 (for respondent)
John M. Stuart, Minnesota Public Defender, Lawrence W. Pry, Assistant Public Defender, Suite 425, 2221 University Avenue Southeast, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Stoneburner, Presiding Judge, Harten, Judge, and Minge, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Appellant Justin Meyer asserts that there is insufficient evidence that he entered into an agreement with alleged co-conspirators to manufacture methamphetamine to support his conviction of conspiracy to commit first-degree controlled-substance crime. Because the evidence is sufficient, we affirm.FACTS
After police discovered all of the materials necessary to manufacture methamphetamine in a Willmar motel room rented for appellant Justin Meyer by his brother Jason Meyer, they found appellant hiding behind a water heater in a utility room at the motel and arrested him. Appellant admitted that he brought the equipment for a methamphetamine lab, along with some marijuana plants, to the motel room. A lock box found in the room contained a motor vehicle title with appellant's name on it, material that appeared to have been used as packaging for controlled substances, receipts for Sudafed, starter fluid, lithium batteries, and a shopping list which correlated with the receipts. Appellant's driver's license and a Jackpot Junction card belonging to co-conspirator Jeremy Peterson were found in a duffle bag in the motel room.
Appellant was charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree controlled-substance crime and was tried before a jury. Jeremy Peterson was charged as a co-conspirator and was subpoenaed to testify at appellant's trial.
Peterson testified that he and appellant both lived in Willmar and both used methamphetamine. He testified that shortly before their arrest, he and appellant went to St. Paul where they used methamphetamine with Patrick Haddeland, whom they had met at a party and who, they knew, had previously attempted to manufacture methamphetamine in the Willmar area. Peterson testified that at Haddeland's St. Paul apartment, he, Haddeland, and appellant discussed obtaining the necessary materials and planned to return to Willmar to manufacture methamphetamine in a cabin that appellant said he could access.
According to Peterson, the morning after this discussion, he and appellant went separately into the BME Lab Store in St. Paul. Peterson purchased some iodine crystals and appellant purchased a condenser. Peterson testified that he and appellant both knew that these materials were to be used to make methamphetamine. Receipts for these purchases were among those found in the motel room. Peterson and appellant then drove toward Willmar. Haddeland was to have followed them, but became paranoid in Hutchinson, so Peterson and appellant returned to Hutchinson and appellant drove Haddeland's jeep to Willmar while Haddeland hid in the jeep for part of the trip.
When they arrived in Willmar, Peterson, appellant, and Haddeland took all of the materials for the methamphetamine-manufacturing operation into Jason Meyer's apartment, where appellant was living. Peterson left to get one remaining ingredient required to make methamphetamine. When he returned, Haddeland had determined that there was not enough pseudoephedrine to make a "cook" worthwhile so the men decided Jason Meyer would go to the Twin Cities and "store-hop" until he had bought enough.
Peterson testified that they planned for the "cook" to take place within a few days and that he, Haddeland, appellant, and Jason Meyer were going to participate, and share the finished product.
Later that night, police officers came to Peterson's apartment and arrested Haddeland. Peterson testified that he learned the following morning that appellant and his brother had moved the manufacturing materials to a motel room. Peterson and Jason Meyer went to the room where appellant was waiting. When a police cruiser drove by, all three men left the room, Peterson and Jason through a back door and appellant in the opposite direction. Their arrests followed.
Appellant testified that he uses methamphetamine but that he was not involved in Peterson's and Haddeland's scheme to make the drug. He testified that it is typical for users of the drug to be asked to buy materials to manufacture it usually Sudafed in exchange for some of the finished product. Appellant admitted knowing about Haddeland's earlier attempt to manufacture methamphetamine and admitted that he had taken a box of materials from that failed attempt, including a broken condenser, from a friend's apartment in Willmar to the Twin Cities. He admitted that he and Peterson went to St. Paul to get some free "glass" from Haddeland. Appellant admitted that he purchased a condenser at the BME Lab Store the following morning, but he denied knowing that it would be used for manufacturing methamphetamine. Appellant denied that he even knew what a condenser is and said he was merely given cash by Peterson and instructed to purchase a piece of glass called a condenser. Appellant claims he had not talked with Peterson and Haddeland about making methamphetamine and did not know Haddeland intended to do so until they arrived in Willmar and Haddeland announced he was going to take "inventory" to confirm he had everything he needed to make the drug. According to appellant, this was the first time he became aware that Haddeland possessed all the materials for making methamphetamine. He admitted that he allowed Haddeland to leave his methamphetamine manufacturing materials in the apartment. Appellant testified that when he and his brother learned of Haddeland's arrest the following morning, they decided to get the materials out of the apartment. Appellant testified that he feared Haddeland's anger if he destroyed such valuable commodities so they moved the materials to the motel where they were arrested.
Appellant was convicted of conspiring to commit first-degree controlled-substance crime. This appeal followed.D E C I S I O N
Appellant argues that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction. In considering a claim of insufficient evidence, this court's review is limited to a careful examination of the record to determine whether the evidence, when viewed in the light most favorable to the conviction, was sufficient to allow the jurors to reach their verdict. State v. Webb,440 N.W.2d 426, 430 (Minn. 1989). It is the exclusive role of the jury to determine the weight and credibility of witness testimony. State v. Folkers, 581 N.W.2d 321, 327 (Minn. 1998). In considering an appeal based on insufficiency of the evidence, this court must assume that the jury believed the state's witnesses and disbelieved evidence to the contrary. State v. Moore, 438 N.W.2d 101, 108 (Minn. 1989). This court will not disturb the verdict if the jury, acting with "due regard for the presumption of innocence" and the requirement of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, could have reasonably concluded that the defendant was guilty of the charged offense. State v. Alton, 432 N.W.2d 754, 756 (Minn. 1988).
Appellant argues that his conviction should be reversed because the evidence presented by the state was insufficient to prove that he intended to manufacture methamphetamine or that there was a conspiratorial agreement to manufacture methamphetamine. But the evidence presented by the state amply supports appellant's conviction of conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine.
A conspiracy exists when a person "conspires with another to commit a crime and in furtherance of the conspiracy one or more of the parties does some overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy * * * ." Minn. Stat. § 609.175, subd. 2 (2002). The state was required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that appellant acted intentionally and that he entered into a collective criminal agreement with someone else to manufacture methamphetamine and that he or a co-conspirator committed an overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy. See Minn. Stat. § 152.096, subd. 1 (2002) (providing that it is a felony for a person to "conspire to commit any act prohibited by [Minn. Stat. § 152.021]."); Minn. Stat. § 152.021, subd. 2a (2002), (providing that "a person is guilty of controlled-substance crime in the first degree if the person manufactures any amount of methamphetamine.") Appellant's conviction is supported by the testimony of co-conspirator Jeremy Peterson whose testimony is corroborated by appellant's admissions, testimony, and substantial physical evidence found in the motel room.
Appellant specifically argues that the state failed to prove intent, because Peterson's testimony that appellant intentionally participated in the plan was not corroborated and was unreliable because Peterson was under the influence of methamphetamine and suffering from sleep deprivation throughout the alleged conspiracy. We disagree.
Peterson admitted that he was under the influence of methamphetamine while the conspiracy was ongoing, but the jury determines the credibility and weight given to the testimony of individual witnesses. State v. Bias, 419 N.W.2d 480, 484-85 (Minn. 1988). It was permissible for the jury to conclude that Peterson's testimony was credible and to reject appellant's contradictory and inconsistent testimony. Peterson received no benefit in exchange for his testimony and had no incentive to lie. At the time he testified, he had already pleaded guilty to conspiracy and was not offered a "deal" in exchange for his testimony.
When a co-conspirator's testimony is used to convict, that testimony must be corroborated by "such other evidence as tends to convict the defendant of the commission of the offense." Minn. Stat. § 634.04 (2002). But the statute does not require that a co-conspirator's testimony be corroborated on every point or element of the crime. State v. Lemire, 315 N.W.2d 606, 610 (Minn. 1982). Absence of corroboration on the specific element of intent does not defeat appellant's conviction. As discussed above, ample evidence corroborates Peterson's testimony.
Appellant's argument that the state failed to demonstrate that he agreed with a conspirator to manufacture methamphetamine is equally without merit. It is permissible for a jury to infer from circumstances that a conspiracy exists. State v. Hatfield, 639 N.W.2d 372, 376 (Minn. 2002). Peterson's corroborated testimony provided direct evidence that appellant agreed to manufacture methamphetamine. The physical evidence and appellant's own testimony and admissions established circumstances from which the jury could infer the existence of a conspiracy.
 "Glass" is a particularly pure form of methamphetamine.