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State v. Babcock

August 03, 2004

STATE OF MINNESOTA, RESPONDENT,
v.
DENNIS LOUIS BABCOCK, APPELLANT.



Hennepin County District Court File No. 02047582.

Considered and decided by Peterson , Presiding Judge; Schumacher , Judge; and Hudson , Judge.

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

A defendant in a criminal case who requests an instruction on the limited purpose of Spreigl evidence is entitled to the requested instruction.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Robert H. Schumacher, Judge

PRIVATE

Reversed and remanded

OPINION

On remand from the supreme court, appellant Dennis Louis Babcock challenges his convictions of first-degree assault of a police officer under Minn. Stat. § 609.221, subd. 2 (2000), two counts of fourth-degree assault of a police officer under Minn. Stat. § 609.2231, subd. 1 (2000), obstructing the legal process or arrest under Minn. Stat. § 609.50, subd. 1 (2000), and third-degree riot under Minn. Stat. § 609.71, subd. 3 (2000), arguing the district court erred in refusing his request to modify the patterned Spreigl-evidence jury instruction.

FACTS

Babcock is a 20-year-old male, who resided with his mother, stepfather, and three siblings in south Minneapolis. In the summer of 2002, two plain-clothed police officers investigating an unrelated crime saw what they believed was a teenage boy stealing frozen pizzas from a delivery truck. The officers lost track of the juvenile and decided to pursue more pressing issues. As the officers were returning to their precinct, they again spotted the juvenile, this time sitting on the porch of Babcock's home.

One of the officers entered the porch to question the juvenile about the pizzas; the other officer was close by. The parties involved all agree the officer showed the juvenile his police identification, but there is substantial disagreement as to when, if ever, Babcock learned the two men were police officers. The juvenile responded that he did not know anything about the pizzas and entered the house. After Babcock's mother came to the front door, a verbal altercation ensued between her and the officer.

Eventually, the altercation escalated and resulted in a physical confrontation involving Babcock, his stepfather, and the two officers. As a result of his participation in the altercation, Babcock was charged with attempted second-degree murder under Minn. Stat. § 609.9, subd. 1(1) (2000), two counts of fourth-degree assault of a police officer under Minn. Stat. § 609.2231, subd. 1, obstructing the legal process or arrest under Minn. Stat. § 609.50, subd. 1, and third-degree riot under Minn. Stat. § 609.71, subd. 3.

Before trial, Babcock filed notice that he intended to assert the following defenses: defense of others, mistake of fact, self-defense, and defense of property. In response, the state filed a Spreigl notice, stating that it intended to introduce evidence of Babcock's prior conviction of obstruction of the legal process. The notice also provided that the state offered the prior conviction to show modus operandi, intent, knowledge, common plan or scheme, identity, and/or absence of mistake.

At the conclusion of the state's case, the district court addressed the admissibility of the proffered Spreigl evidence. After analyzing the appropriate factors, the district court ruled the evidence was admissible to show modus operandi and absence of mistake. The court then stated it would give a limiting instruction both before and after the evidence was admitted.

Before trial the next morning, Babcock's counsel stated to the district court:"We would be requesting a limiting instruction, Your Honor. However, with one caveat, and that is we're not satisfied with the patterned instruction." When asked if counsel had a substitute instruction in mind, counsel responded:

Well, it would basically just be deleting certain of the language and basically, I'm - I'm not certain exactly under what specific exceptions - I think - not because the Court didn't do it, because I just don't recall clearly from yesterday under what specific exceptions the Court is admitting the - the prior event.

But what I would ask for is, essentially, an instruction that specifies it may not under any circumstance be used to impugn the defendant's character, meaning the jury may not infer that because somebody committed a particular type of act in the present case. Then to specify the evidence is being admitted to show only ...


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