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Pederson v. State

February 24, 2005

RYAN MICHAEL PEDERSON, PETITIONER, APPELLANT,
v.
STATE OF MINNESOTA, RESPONDENT.



SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

1. Although the state erred in not disclosing to appellant's trial counsel that it provided a witness with a state-prepared summary of that witness's police statement and grand jury testimony, the state's failure to disclose did not prejudice appellant and thus was not reversible error.

2. The post-conviction court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that no false testimony was presented at trial and that the state did not suborn perjury or coach witnesses.

3. The post-conviction court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that the state did not improperly impede defense counsel's investigator's access to a witness.

4. The post-conviction court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that appellant's right to a fair trial was not compromised by the manner in which a witness waived his immunity prior to testifying at the grand jury.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Blatz, Chief Justice.

Took no part, Anderson, G. Barry, J.

Affirmed.

Considered and decided by the court en banc without oral argument.

OPINION

Appellant Ryan Michael Pederson was convicted in the Tenth Judicial District of aiding and abetting first-degree murder while committing burglary under Minn. Stat.§ 609.185(3) (2004) and aiding and abetting second-degree intentional murder under Minn. Stat. § 609.19(1) (2004) and was sentenced to life in prison. Appellant directly appealed to this court, arguing inter alia that the uncorroborated accomplice testimony of Stephen Dean provided the only evidence that appellant participated in the murder. State v. Pederson, 614 N.W.2d 724 (Minn. 2000) ("Pederson I"). This court affirmed appellant's conviction, concluding that the physical evidence and the testimony of Tony Moses, a key state witness, corroborated the testimony of appellant's accomplice. Id. at 732-34.

Upon learning that Moses had prepared for trial using a seven-page summary ("Summary") of his police statement and grand jury testimony compiled by the state but not disclosed to appellant's counsel, appellant filed a petition for post-conviction relief claiming he was entitled to a new trial due to newly discovered evidence, prosecutorial misconduct, improper vouching, and subornation of perjury. The post-conviction court summarily denied appellant's request for relief, adopting verbatim the state's proposed findings, conclusions, and order denying post-conviction relief without affording appellant's counsel the opportunity to review those submissions or to provide alternate versions. Pederson v. State, 649 N.W.2d 161, 163 (Minn. 2002). This court reversed and remanded for reconsideration, stating that little deference attached to "a post-conviction order exonerating the prosecution of allegations of serious misconduct when that order is predicated ex parte on findings and conclusions drafted by the prosecution." Id. at 164.

On remand, the case was transferred from the Tenth Judicial District to the Seventh, and a two-day post-conviction evidentiary hearing was held. The post-conviction court concluded that appellant's right to a fair trial was not compromised by the state's nondisclosure of the Summary and that the state's conduct did not deny appellant a fair trial. We affirm the post-conviction court's denial of relief.

The victim, Robert Anderson, a 32-year-old man, was found in his home beaten and stabbed to death on August 20, 1997. Pederson I, 614 N.W.2d at 726. On May 14, 1998, a grand jury indicted appellant, Ryan Michael Pederson, and his close friend Stephen Dean on three counts of first-degree murder and aiding and abetting first-degree murder. Id. at 727. Dean subsequently entered into a plea agreement with the state and testified at appellant's trial.*fn1 Id. at 727. Appellant was convicted by a jury of first-degree murder committed in the course of a burglary and second-degree murder. Id. at 730.

Tony Moses was a close friend of both Dean and appellant. At the time the murder took place, Dean was 20 years old, Moses was 18, and appellant was 17. Moses was not involved in the killing, but he spoke with both Dean and appellant by telephone shortly after the murder and then again in person at Dean's house six or seven hours later. Further, Moses saw Dean and appellant frequently in the days following the killing, and he spoke with each man individually about how the killing took place.

Six days after the murder, the police responded to a report that someone was breaking into Anderson's mobile home. The first officer on the scene observed a man carrying a chair from Anderson's home to Dean's mobile home next door. The officer pursued the man into Dean's home, where he found appellant, Dean, Moses, and three others. All were arrested and taken to the station. Subsequently, Moses gave two recorded statements to the police and testified at the grand jury proceedings.

Moses was uncooperative during his first statement to the police. He then retained an attorney, who negotiated an agreement with the state that provided Moses with "use" immunity during his second police statement and his grand jury testimony. The terms of this immunity were set forth in a letter prepared by the state, which stated that "nothing [Moses] says during the statement could be used against him in any criminal prosecution."*fn2 However, the state stipulated that "[o]nce [Moses] has given the statement to law enforcement, whatever information and/or evidence law enforcement obtains as a result of information provided by [Moses] could still potentially be used against [Moses] in any future criminal prosecution." The state ...


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