Winona County District Court File No. K901857
Considered and decided by Willis, Presiding Judge, Toussaint, Chief
Judge, and Stoneburner, Judge.
The testimony of a qualified gang expert, who corroborated accomplice testimony concerning the authority and power structure of gang relationships that made the accomplices subordinate to and in fear of the appellant, together with physical evidence and appellant's admissions that were consistent with appellant's guilt, sufficiently corroborated the accomplices' testimony to sustain appellant's conviction.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Stoneburner, Judge
Appellant Na Her appeals his convictions of first-degree aggravated robbery and first-degree solicitation of a juvenile to engage in first-degree aggravated robbery, both committed for the benefit of a criminal gang. Na Her argues that there was insufficient evidence to corroborate accomplice testimony indicating that he committed these crimes. Because the corroborative evidence is sufficient, we affirm.
The Sterling Motel in Winona was robbed at gunpoint by two young Asian men wearing dark clothing. The men were apprehended shortly after the robbery when police stopped a car driven by Na Her. The robbers and another Asian youth were passengers in the car. A handgun, ammunition, loose change consistent with cash taken from the motel, and dark clothing similar to that described by the eyewitness, were found in the car. In a four-count complaint, Na Her was charged with (1) first-degree aggravated robbery, (2) first-degree solicitation of a minor to commit first-degree robbery, (3) first-degree aggravated robbery committed for the benefit of a criminal gang, and (4) first-degree solicitation of a minor to commit first-degree robbery committed for the benefit of a criminal gang.
At trial, the robbers, who were members of a gang known as True Asian Bloods (TAB), testified that they committed the robbery at the instruction of Na Her, who had the authority to compel them to follow his instructions because he is an admitted member of a more prestigious gang, known as Tiny Men Crew (TMC). An expert on gangs testified that within the hierarchical framework of the gang world, Na Her, as a member of TMC, would have been the most powerful person in the vehicle and would have been able to tell the others what to do. The expert further testified that, given Na Her's position, he would have been aware of what was going on in the car and what activity his passengers were involved in.
Na Her testified that he was familiar with Winona, had previously stayed at the Sterling Motel, knew that an older woman worked nights at the front desk, and knew that other TMC members had stayed at the motel. But Na Her testified that he thought the youths were going to buy marijuana and that he had no idea that they planned to rob the motel. Na Her was found guilty of all of the charges against him. This appeal followed.
Was the accomplice testimony sufficiently corroborated to ...