1. The court of appeals erred in granting respondent a new trial without properly analyzing whether the admission of the videotaped statement by the victim's unavailable six-year-old child in the domestic assault case was harmless. The trial court's error, if any, is harmless beyond a reasonable doubt.
2. The trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying respondent's motion for a continuance in the domestic assault case.
3. The trial court's admission of respondent's other crimes evidence in the officer assault case was error, but harmless.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Page, Justice.
Heard, considered, and decided by the court en banc.
Respondent Antoine Edward Eugene Courtney was charged with second-degree assault in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.222, subd. 1 (2004), terroristic threats in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.713, subd. 1 (2004), two counts of domestic assault in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.2242, subd. 1(1) and (2) (2004), and fourth-degree criminal damage to property in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.595, subd. 3 (2004), for assaulting his girlfriend S.B. in September 2001. As the result of a separate incident that took place in November 2001 in which he allegedly pointed a handgun at a police officer, Courtney was charged with second-degree assault in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.222, subd. 1, possession of a firearm with an altered serial number in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.667 (2004), and possession of marijuana in violation of Minn. Stat. §§ 152.027, subd. 4(a), and 152.02, subd. 2(3) (2004). The marijuana charge was ultimately dismissed. The charges arising from the two incidents were tried separately and in each case the jury found Courtney guilty as charged.
In a consolidated appeal, the court of appeals reversed both convictions and remanded, holding, among other things, that: (1) the admission of a videotaped interview by S.B.'s six-year-old daughter, S.G., in the domestic assault case violated Courtney's right to confrontation; (2) the error was not harmless; (3) the trial court abused its discretion when it denied Courtney's motion for a continuance in the domestic assault case to allow his new attorney more time to prepare for the trial; and (4) the trial court abused its discretion by admitting a portion of the complaint from the domestic assault case in the officer assault trial. State v. Courtney, 682 N.W.2d 185, 205 (Minn. App. 2004). The state appealed. We granted limited review on the above issues.*fn1
After briefing, but before oral argument at the court of appeals, the United States Supreme Court decided Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36 (2004). Relying on Crawford, the court of appeals, in the domestic assault case, held that Courtney's right to confront witnesses against him under the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution was violated when the trial court admitted into evidence a videotaped statement made by S.G., who was unavailable to testify at trial.*fn2 Courtney, 682 N.W.2d at 197. The court of appeals concluded that, if harmless error analysis applied, the erroneous admission of S.G.'s videotaped statement was not harmless. Id. The court of appeals further held in the domestic assault case that the trial court abused its discretion when it denied Courtney's motion for a continuance to allow his recently retained attorney more time to prepare for trial. Id. at 200. The court of appeals also reversed in the officer assault case, holding that the trial court erred in admitting evidence related to Courtney's domestic assault of S.B. Id. at 198. The court of appeals concluded that, because it had reversed the conviction in the domestic assault case, the introduction of other crimes evidence from that case impermissibly tainted the officer assault case. Id. The court of appeals did not perform a harmless error analysis with respect to the admission of the other crimes evidence. See id.
The facts giving rise to Courtney's convictions are as follows. On September 21, 2001, Caledonia Police Chief Duane St. Mary responded to a domestic incident at S.B.'s apartment. Chief St. Mary described S.B. as in "pretty bad shape" when he arrived, with red marks along the left side of her jaw and a black left eye. The right side of S.B.'s face and upper cheek were swollen, with discoloration under her right eye and a broken blood vessel in her right eye.
Before Chief St. Mary could ask S.B. what her name was, S.B. began talking about what Courtney, the father of two of her four children, had done to her. She said that Courtney came to her apartment on Wednesday, September 19, and became upset when S.B. received a call from a man who had dialed the wrong number. As a result of this call, Courtney demanded to know who the man was. According to S.B., Courtney said if she did not tell him who the caller was he would choke the information out of her. Courtney then proceeded to choke and beat S.B. Chief St. Mary observed that the marks on S.B.'s neck were consistent with S.B. having been choked. S.B. said her neck was so swollen that she could hardly swallow. According to S.B., Courtney hit her "like [she were] a man," assaulting her in both the living room and the bedroom. The assault included grabbing S.B. by her hair, banging her head against a wall, and hitting her in the stomach and face. At some point, S.B.'s nose started to bleed, resulting in blood splatters on a bedroom wall. Afraid that Courtney was going to kill her, S.B. grabbed a knife, which Courtney took away from her and held to her throat. According to S.B., the physical assault continued on September 20, with Courtney taking S.B. into the bathroom, hitting her head against the bathtub, and choking her until she passed out. Evidently the beating resumed and, even though S.B. did not have the phone number of the man who called, she eventually told Courtney that she would give him the phone number. She lied to Courtney because she thought if she did not give him a phone number he was going to kill her. Having been told that she was going to give him the number, Courtney stopped choking S.B. On the morning of September 21, Courtney broke S.B.'s two telephones, took some of S.B.'s belongings, and said he was going to come back and take more. He told S.B. that he would kill her if she did not open the door upon his return and that if she acted like she was not home he would shoot her.
S.B. was treated by Dr. Alan Fleischmann on September 22, 2001. She told the doctor that she had been beaten by her children's father on September 19 and 20. She also told the doctor that Courtney punched her in the face and chest and "throttled" her twice and that she thought she was going to die when he did that. In his testimony, Dr. Fleischmann described S.B.'s injuries, including a bruise to her head, a black eye, hemorrhaging in her other eye, tender jaw joints, tenderness in the rib cage, and a swollen face, as well as bruises on the left side of S.B.'s throat that were consistent with finger marks. It was Dr. Fleischmann's opinion that S.B.'s explanation of the assault was consistent with her injuries.
On October 8, 2001, Child Protection Investigator Kristi Peterson interviewed six-year-old S.G. regarding her knowledge of Courtney's assault of her mother. The interview was arranged by Chief St. Mary and was conducted in a Houston County Human Services ...