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State v. Alger

September 9, 2003

STATE OF MINNESOTA, RESPONDENT,
v.
SHERI LYNN ALGER, APPELLANT.



Carver County District Court File No. K9-01-1205

Considered and decided by Anderson, Presiding Judge, Harten, Judge, and Wright, Judge.

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

Affirmed

UNPUBLISHED OPINION

Appellant challenges her conviction for second-degree felony murder, arguing that the evidence is insufficient to support a conclusion beyond a reasonable doubt that she committed the predicate felony of first-degree assault and to show that her act killed the victim. Because the evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the verdict, is sufficient to show that appellant committed first-degree assault and that her act caused the victim's death, we affirm.

FACTS

Appellant Sheri Lynn Alger operated a daycare facility in her home. Among the children she cared for was four-month-old I.D. On 3 July 2001, I.D. was hospitalized after being injured while at the daycare facility. Appellant gave the detectives who interviewed her four different and conflicting accounts of the injury, implicating first her two-year-old daughter, then herself, as the cause.

Doctors determined that I.D. had been shaken, and he was placed on life support systems. On 15 July, the physicians treating I.D. reported that he would never regain consciousness and was in a permanent vegetative state. On 16 July, I.D.'s mother decided to withdraw life support. I.D. died on 31 July.

Appellant was charged with unintentional murder in the second degree (felony murder) while committing or attempting to commit first degree assault; manslaughter in the first degree while committing or attempting to commit malicious punishment of a child; and manslaughter in the second degree.

In September 2001, appellant claimed for the first time that I.D. had actually been injured by appellant's husband, Brad Alger, and said her previous stories were intended to shield Alger. Appellant waived her right to a jury trial and continued to argue throughout her bench trial that Alger had caused I.D.'s injury. Appellant also moved for acquittal, arguing that I.D.'s death was caused not by his injury but by the decision to withdraw life support.

The district court found appellant guilty as charged. She appeals, arguing that the evidence is insufficient to show the intent element of the first-degree assault underlying her felony murder conviction and reiterating, pro se, the argument made on her motion for judgment of acquittal.*fn1

DECISION

In considering claims of insufficient evidence, this court's review is limited to a painstaking analysis of the record to determine whether the evidence, 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). 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 reasonably conclude the defendant was guilty of the charged offense. State v. ...


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