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State v. Fields

May 20, 2004

STATE OF MINNESOTA, RESPONDENT,
v.
VICTOR DONNELL FIELDS, APPELLANT.



SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

1. Grand jury testimony of unavailable declarant was admissible under Minn. R. Evid. 804(b)(5). Confrontation Clause claim was forfeited by wrongdoing of defendant which procured unavailability of declarant.

2. There was no error in the admission of a prior consistent statement of a witness or in the admission, without objection, of the substance of information relayed to the police.

3. The evidence was sufficient to support the verdict.

4. Denial of jail credit for time spent in a residential treatment program was not clearly erroneous. Consecutive sentence for attempted first-degree murder, when calculated correctly, is 220 months.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Anderson, Russell A., Justice.

Hennepin County Anderson, Russell A., J.

Affirmed as modified.

Heard, considered and decided by the court en banc.

OPINION

Appellant Victor Donnell Fields was convicted and sentenced in Hennepin County District Court for the crimes of first-degree murder, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.185(a)(1) (2002), and attempted first-degree murder, in violation of Minn. Stat. §§ 609.185(a)(1) and 609.17, subd. 1 (2002), in connection with the death of LeTerrance Paige and injury to Keinon Love. On appeal, Fields claims that he was denied a fair trial by the admission of various hearsay statements, that the evidence was insufficient to support the convictions and that the calculation of the duration of his sentence was erroneous. We affirm as modified.

On December 6, 2001, at approximately 3:45 in the afternoon, a city bus was picking up passengers at the bus stop located at 63rd and Zane Avenue in Brooklyn Park. As the driver was about to close the doors and leave, a young man leaned in the front door and fired four shots from a semiautomatic pistol into the full bus, killing 22-year-old LeTerrance Paige and critically wounding 21-year-old Keinon Love. The shooter fled, firing four more rounds into the side of the bus, and ran toward the entrance of the Eden Park Apartments complex north of the bus stop.

Law enforcement officers responded within minutes, tending to the victims and securing the scene. Officers from Brooklyn Park, the Hennepin County Sheriff's Department, Metropolitan Transit Commission police, North Hennepin County Drug Task Force and Brooklyn Center collected evidence, including eight spent.45-caliber cartridge casings ejected from the same semiautomatic, and interviewed witnesses who described the shooter as wearing a black "puffy" down jacket, black winter cap and tan boots. Based on information that the shooter had run to apartment 205 in the building located at 6345 Zane in the Eden Park complex, four officers went to that apartment but found no one who matched the description of the shooter. Other officers formed teams to methodically canvass the entire Eden Park complex for witnesses. The following day, officers rode the same bus route looking for witnesses who may have been overlooked or who had not yet come forward.

During the investigation, the police learned that there had been an earlier incident involving Paige that might lead to information concerning the shooting. Shortly after Thanksgiving, about a week before the shooting, three men robbed 16-year-old Dennis Johnson in front of the convenience store near the same bus stop at 63rd and Zane. Johnson was at that location with Fields' cousin, Edward, and when Edward ran, the three men grabbed Johnson. One of the men pistol-whipped Johnson and took his leather coat, house keys and some money. There was testimony that Fields was later overheard saying that he "had something" for the person who "did the robbery."

Based on this lead, police interviewed Johnson, who stated that he was sitting on the bench at the bus stop on the day of the shooting when Edward approached and, referring to Paige who was near the entrance to the Eden Park complex, said "isn't that the guy who stuck us up?" Johnson said he thought so. Edward walked back toward the store. There was evidence that Edward then "rented" a cell phone for 50 cents and placed a call to the phone number listed to Fields in apartment 205. Johnson told police that, as the bus pulled up, Paige and his girlfriend started walking to the front of the bus and they were followed by Fields, who stopped near the bench to ask Edward and Johnson "like, ...


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