State of Minnesota, Respondent, v. Frederick Arden Hamilton, Appellant.Annotate this Case
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480 A. 08, subd. 3 (1998).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
State of Minnesota,
Taiwo Aigbokhae-Louis Idowu,
Filed January 11, 2000
Hennepin County District Court
File No. 98061073
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 525 Park St., Suite 500, St. Paul, MN 55103-2106; and
Amy Klobuchar, Hennepin County Attorney, Mary M. Lynch, Assistant County Attorney, C-2000 Government Ctr., Minneapolis, MN 55487 (for respondent)
John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, D. Adrian Bryan, Assistant State Public Defender, 2829 University Ave. S.E., Suite 600, Minneapolis, MN 55414-3230 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Peterson, Presiding Judge, Randall, Judge, and Davies, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Appellant Taiwo Idowu, convicted of terroristic threats in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.713, subd. 1 (1998), challenges the sufficiency of the evidence on intent to terrorize. Because we conclude there was proof of the requisite intent, we affirm.
On June 16, 1998, appellant was laid off from his job at Vencor Hospital in Golden Valley. Based on appellant's emotional response to the news of his layoff, one of his supervisors contacted Dr. Norman Yunis, a fellow hospital employee, who had befriended appellant.
Yunis and appellant met at a restaurant that night and talked for about an hour and a half. During their conversation, appellant told Yunis that he had bought a shotgun earlier that day and that he was going to use it at the hospital the next day if he did not get "satisfaction." Appellant also identified three hospital employees as potential targets and repeated threats to them three to seven times during his conversation with Yunis. In addition, appellant said he had asked his lawyer whether his life insurance policy would be affected by his committing suicide or being killed in a police shootout. After they left the restaurant, appellant showed Yunis a 16-gauge shotgun and a box of shells in the trunk of his car. Yunis offered to buy the gun, but appellant declined to sell.
Later that evening, Yunis informed the hospital of appellant's threats; the hospital contacted the police. The next morning, police intercepted appellant in his vehicle on the access road to Vencor Hospital. Before arresting appellant, police observed that he was wearing all black clothing and that he had several times changed from wearing a baseball cap to a stocking cap. Police found the shotgun and shells in appellant's trunk.
In a bench trial, appellant was found guilty of four counts of terroristic threats. The trial court stayed execution of appellant's sentence on condition that he successfully complete five years of probation.
D E C I S I O N
In considering a sufficiency-of-evidence claim, an appellate court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict and assume the fact-finder credited the state's witnesses and discredited contrary evidence. Dale v. State, 535 N.W.2d 619, 623 (Minn. 1995). An appellate court reviews a sufficiency-of-the-evidence claim in a criminal bench trial under the same standard as in review of a jury verdict. State v. Hough, 585 N.W.2d 393, 396 (Minn. 1998).
Intent, for purposes of the terroristic-threat statute, includes making a threat "with [the] purpose to terrorize another * * * or in * * * reckless disregard of the risk of causing such terror." Minn. Stat. § 609.713, subd. 1. "Intent * * * is a subjective state of mind usually established only by reasonable inference from surrounding circumstances." State v. Schweppe, 306 Minn. 395, 401, 237 N.W.2d 609, 614 (1975).
We conclude that the evidence of intent was sufficient in this case. Appellant's conversation with Yunis, in which he made numerous threats to three hospital employees, coupled with strong circumstantial evidence that those threats had substance, provided the trial court with sufficient evidence of his intent to terrorize.
Appellant did not directly communicate his threats to the intended victims. But given the specificity and violent nature of his threats, appellant knew or had reason to know that his threats would be communicated to the victims or, alternatively, he recklessly risked the danger that the threats would be communicated to them. See State. v. Fisher, 354 N.W.2d 29, 34 (Minn. App. 1984) (where person who heard threat was related to one victim and was friend of another, defendant intended, or recklessly risked, that threat would be communicated to victims), review denied (Minn. Dec. 20, 1984). Further, although appellant identifies other witnesses who characterized his actions as either nonthreatening or mere "transitory anger," we must assume that the fact-finder believed the state's witnesses who testified to appellant's criminal objective. See Dale, 535 N.W.2d at 623.
In his supplemental pro se brief, appellant similarly asserts the evidence was insufficient to support the conviction. These arguments only restate the issues presented in appellant's main brief. For the reasons stated in our analysis, we conclude that the evidence of intent was sufficient.