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In re Welfare of C.M.A.

November 18, 2003

IN THE MATTER OF THE WELFARE OF: C.M.A.


St. Louis County District Court File No. J5-03-650230

Considered and decided by Minge, Presiding Judge, Klaphake, Judge, and Peterson, Judge.

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

1. The state may appeal a pretrial order dismissing a delinquency petition for lack of probable cause if review presents a legal question based solely on the legal interpretation of a statute.

2. Minn. Stat. § 634.03 (2002), which states that a confession "shall not be sufficient to warrant conviction without evidence that the offense charged has been committed," does not apply to a probable cause determination, where the record includes not only the confession, but also other evidence that establishes the commission of a crime.

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

Klaphake, Judge

OPINION

The State of Minnesota appeals from an order denying its motion to reconsider a prior order dismissing a delinquency petition charging 15-year-old respondent C.M.A with second-degree burglary under Minn. Stat. § 609.582, subd. 2(a) (2002). The district court determined that the delinquency petition lacked probable cause because respondent's confession was not sufficiently corroborated by independent evidence that the charged offense had been committed, as required by Minn. Stat. § 634.03 (2002).

Because the district court erred in its application of Minn. Stat. § 634.03 and in dismissing the petition for lack of probable cause, we reverse and remand with instructions to reinstate the petition against respondent.

FACTS

On February 11, 2003, at about 3:00 p.m., Roger Rose returned home to find the front door and the sliding glass door to the deck open. When he went inside, he discovered that someone had rummaged through all of the bedrooms. He called his wife, Bonnie Rose, and they contacted the St. Louis County Sheriff's department after ascertaining that approximately $1,500 in cash was missing from the home.

When Deputy Pat Olson arrived, he notice footprints in the snow leading to the deck. The tracks led Olson to believe that the burglar had stood on top of some pipes to look into a bedroom window. The Roses reported that they had a spare key hidden under a deck joist, which apparently had been used to enter the home without force and which was found inside on top of the bed in the master bedroom.

The Roses provided Olson with a list of things missing from the bedrooms, including approximately $1,500 in paper bills and several containers of change and old coins. The family suspected several of one daughter's former friends and gave the names of those suspects to Olson. They mentioned respondent and indicated that she knew the location of the spare key.

Chief Shawn Padden of the Duluth Township Police Department conducted a follow-up investigation and prepared a supplemental report that formed the basis for the delinquency petition. His report indicated that respondent had stayed with the Rose family for a period of time and that she knew the location of the spare key. When Padden checked school records, he discovered that respondent had skipped school on the day of the burglary and that she had been arrested at about 3:00 p.m. that day for shoplifting at a mall. Padden's report also stated: "It is believed the arresting [Duluth Police Department] officer, Kelly Greenwalt, located approximately $300.00 cash on ...


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