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Stiles v. State

June 15, 2006


Hennepin County.


The post-conviction court did not err in denying appellant's second post-conviction petition without a hearing.


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

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


This is the second petition for post-conviction relief filed by appellant Justin Stiles. Stiles was found guilty of two counts of first-degree felony murder under Minn. Stat. § 609.185(3) (1996), and one count of second-degree intentional murder under Minn. Stat. § 609.19, subd. 1(1) (2004), for the killing of Heinz Moorman. We previously affirmed the post-conviction court's denial of Stiles' first petition for post-conviction relief, rejecting Stiles' claims that the district court erred in failing to submit lesser-included offenses to the jury. Stiles v. State, 664 N.W.2d 315, 319-22 (Minn. 2003). In this second post-conviction petition, Stiles asks that we review the same claims in light of State v. Dahlin, 695 N.W.2d 588 (Minn. 2005), our recent elucidation of lesser-included offense law. We affirm.

The facts of this case are set forth in detail in our previous Stiles opinion. The pertinent facts for the purposes of this post-conviction petition are as follows: On January 8, 1998, Stiles and four friends decided to rob a marijuana dealer, Heinz Moorman. Stiles, 664 N.W.2dat 317. One of them, Brendan Connor, called Moorman to arrange a purchase, the actual purpose of which was to rob Moorman. Id. Two of the men brought guns to effectuate the robbery. Id. During the robbery, Moorman appeared to begin to reach for a gun in his waistband. Id. Stiles and Charlie Seepersaud, another of the five men, then shot Moorman several times, killing him. Id.

Toward the close of trial, Stiles requested that the district court include three lesser-included offenses in the instructions to the jury: second-degree unintentional felony murder, third-degree murder, and first-degree heat-of-passion manslaughter. Id. at 319. The district court "denied the requests because it found there was sufficient evidence of intent to convict of the charged offenses, noting that the testimony indicated Stiles 'intended to kill [Moorman] or to do an act that would have that result.'" Id. The court instructed the jury only on first-degree felony murder with aggravated robbery as the predicate offense, first-degree felony murder with controlled substance crime as the predicate offense, and second-degree intentional murder. The jury found Stiles guilty of all three charges. Id.

Stiles did not exercise his right to direct appeal. Id. at 319. He did, however, petition for post-conviction relief nearly three years after his conviction. In that petition, one of the arguments Stiles raised was that his conviction should be overturned because the district court denied his request to instruct the jury on three lesser-included offenses. Id. The post-conviction court denied relief, and we affirmed. Id. at 319, 323.

After ruling on Stiles' previous post-conviction petition, we decided Dahlin. 695 N.W.2d 588. Dahlin clarified Minnesota law on lesser-included offenses. Id at 593. Stiles subsequently filed a second petition for post-conviction relief, this one based on Dahlin. The post-conviction court denied Stiles' second petition without an evidentiary hearing.


The post-conviction court "may summarily deny a petition when the issues raised in it have previously been decided by [our court] in the same case." Minn. Stat. § 509.04, subd. 3 (2004). Additionally, in State v. Knaffla we said that "where direct appeal has once been taken, all matters raised therein, and all claims known but not raised, will not be considered upon a subsequent petition for post-conviction relief." 309 Minn. 246, 252, 243 N.W.2d 737, 741 (Minn. 1976). A new rule of law, announced after a direct appeal has been completed, may present a claim that was unknown on direct appeal, and thus is not barred by Knaffla. But if a defendant's conviction was already final at the time the new rule of law was announced, the defendant ordinarily may not take advantage of the new rule because it will not be retroactive. O'Meara v. State, 679 N.W.2d 334, 339 (Minn. 2004) (citing Teague v. Lane, 489 U.S. 288, 310-11 (1989)).

Stiles argues that Dahlin did not articulate a new rule of law and therefore Dahlin applies retroactively to Stiles' case. But Stiles further claims that his lesser-included offense arguments are not Knaffla-barred because "the issue that, under Dahlin reversal is required, * * * was not raised in appellant's previous appeal ...

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