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State v. Watkins

September 24, 2002

STATE OF MINNESOTA, RESPONDENT,
v.
GEORGE CORNELIUS WATKINS, APPELLANT.



Hennepin County District Court File No. 01023550

Considered and decided by Klaphake Presiding Judge, Halbrooks Judge, and Parker Judge.*fn1

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

When consecutive sentencing is permissive and the court pronounces a sentence that is to run consecutively to another executed sentence, the presumptive disposition for the consecutive sentence is also execution of the sentence.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Halbrooks, Judge

Affirmed

OPINION

Appellant George C. Watkins challenges his (1) conviction of aggravated robbery on the ground that the evidence was insufficient to support the conviction because he testified that he did not know that he was not entitled to take the vehicle, and (2) sentence for fleeing police on the ground that the court erred by departing from the presumptive sentence without justifying the departure with findings of substantial and compelling circumstances. Because the evidence in the record is sufficient to support the aggravated-robbery conviction and because the trial court acted within its discretion in sentencing, we affirm.

FACTS

On March 18, 2001, David Chaokhio left his apartment in his Honda Accord with the intent to buy marijuana. When Chaokhio saw appellant George C.áWatkins and two other young males walking by, he gestured to them, indicating his desire to buy some marijuana. Appellant motioned to Chaokhio to pull into a nearby gas station that was closed at the time. Appellant's companions continued walking down the street as appellant met Chaokhio.

Chaokhio testified that appellant got into his front passenger seat and asked him how much he wanted to buy. Chaokhio told appellant that he wanted ten dollars' worth and asked appellant if he could change a twenty-dollar bill. At that point, appellant pulled a gun out of his front pants pocket and pointed it at Chaokhio. Chaokhio stated that he offered to give appellant his money and car and showed him a picture of his daughter with the hope that appellant would not harm him. Appellant then put the gun back in his pocket and asked Chaokhio to drive him to where his friends were. Chaokhio testified that he refused, because he believed that appellant and his friends might then "dispose" of him. Instead, Chaokhio jumped out of his car and ran; appellant drove off.

Chaokhio encountered a Minneapolis City employee, who called 911. On the tape, Chaokhio can be heard in the background, providing information about his car and stating that he had just been held up at gunpoint. The city employee testified that Chaokhio was excited and distraught during their encounter.

Appellant's testimony of the encounter differs significantly. According to appellant, he had purchased some poor-quality ecstasy from Chaokhio a few weeks earlier, and Chaokhio was trying to make up for the bad deal. Appellant stated that he and Chaokhio simply talked about their prior deal in Chaokhio's car, and Chaokhio pulled out a gun when appellant asked if he could get a ride to where his friends were. Appellant claimed that he took the gun away from Chaokhio, and Chaokhio began to "freak out," despite appellant's assurances that he would not harm him. Chaokhio then jumped out of the car and ran off. Appellant, believing that Chaokhio had given him the car to make up for the prior bad-drug deal, drove off in the Honda.

After Minneapolis Police Officers Taylor and Hutchins received a report of a stolen vehicle, they saw a car matching the description with three young men in it. The officers followed the vehicle for a short distance and then activated their emergency lights to pull it over. In response, appellant accelerated and drove through stop signs at three intersections. As appellant was running a fourth stop sign, he hit another vehicle, resulting in serious and permanent injuries to its driver. Appellant's speed was later estimated by an accident reconstructionist to be approximately 59-63 miles per hour when he struck the other vehicle.

In the course of searching appellant incident to his arrest, police found a gun in his pocket that had the serial number scratched off. Chaokhio, brought to the scene, identified his Honda and identified ...


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