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State v. Wright

May 18, 2004

STATE OF MINNESOTA, RESPONDENT,
v.
LORENZO LAMONT WRIGHT, APPELLANT.



Hennepin County District Court. File No. 02046483.

Considered and decided by Willis , Presiding Judge; Schumacher , Judge; and Wright , Judge.

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

When stipulating to an element of an offense, a defendant must personally waive the right to a jury trial on that element either in writing or orally on the record after an advice of rights.

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

Affirmed

OPINION

Appellant challenges his convictions of two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, arguing that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support the jury's verdict and (2) he is entitled to a new trial because his attorney agreed to stipulate to an element of the offense without appellant personally waiving the right to have the jury decide that issue. We affirm.

FACTS

In May 2002, appellant Lorenzo Lamont Wright and his girlfriend moved in with Leverder Ford and her family at Ford's home in Minneapolis. At that time, Ford lived with several children, including her 11-year-old daughter, K.R., and Ford's best friend, Cassandra Simms.

Ford became concerned when she noticed Wright paying more attention to K.R. than the other children in the home. After Ford confronted K.R. about these concerns, K.R. eventually disclosed that she and Wright had engaged in sexual activity in the bathroom a few days earlier. Ford immediately called Simms and Wright's girlfriend into the room and directed K.R. to repeat what K.R. had told Ford. When Simms heard the allegations, she called the police.

The police came to the residence, spoke with K.R., Ford, Simms, and Wright's girlfriend, and then arrested Wright. Minneapolis Police Sergeant Bernard Martinson drove K.R., Ford, and Simms to Children's Hospital where K.R. underwent a physical examination. Martinson arranged for K.R. to be interviewed the next day at the Midwest Children's Resource Center (MCRC).

A registered nurse with several years' experience conducting medical evaluations and interviews of children alleging sexual or physical abuse interviewed and examined K.R. From a separate observation room, Martinson observed the interview, which was videotaped. During the interview, K.R. stated that, while Wright and K.R. were on the bathroom floor and unclothed below the waist, Wright placed his "private parts" inside her "private parts." K.R. reported feeling pain when Wright did this.

Wright was charged with two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, a violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.342, subd. 1(a) (2000). At trial, Dr. Steven Tredal testified for the defense that, based on his review of the medical reports, there was no physical or medical evidence of penetration. Dr. Tredal admitted during cross-examination that there also is no evidence that the sexual contact or penetration had not occurred. Martinson, who investigated the bathroom with a forensics team, testified that no physical evidence of semen was found in the bathroom.

The jury found Wright guilty of both counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. Wright moved for a new trial because he did not personally agree to stipulate that he is more than 36 months older than K.R.-an element of each offense of ...


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