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State v. Skipintheday

July 13, 2006

STATE OF MINNESOTA, APPELLANT,
v.
TODD SKIPINTHEDAY, RESPONDENT.



SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

Defendant, who was found guilty of three counts of being an accomplice after-the-fact under Minn. Stat. § 609.495, subd. 3 (2004), all arising from a single behavioral incident, did not have multiple victims, and was therefore not subject to multiple sentences under Minn. Stat. § 609.035 (2004).

Affirmed.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Meyer, Justice

Heard, considered, and decided by the court en banc.

OPINION

In this case, the state seeks review of the court of appeals' sentencing decisions regarding respondent Todd Skipintheday. Skipintheday pleaded guilty under Minn. Stat. § 609.495, subd. 3 (2004), to three counts of being an accomplice after-the-fact to crimes arising from a three-victim shooting in Redwood Falls, Minnesota, on July 12, 2003. The district court determined that Skipintheday committed multiple-victim crimes, and therefore gave Skipintheday a separate sentence for each of the three counts. The court of appeals reversed, determining that the crime of being an accomplice after-the-fact is a crime against the administration of justice, not a crime against personal victims. State v. Skipintheday, 704 N.W.2d 177, 181-82 (Minn. App. 2005). We affirm. This opinion confirms our order filed May 24, 2006, vacating Skipintheday's sentences for accomplice after-the-fact to assault in the first degree for the benefit of a gang, and for accomplice after-the-fact to attempted second-degree murder.

On July 11, 2003, Skipintheday, an associate of the Native Gangster Disciples gang, traveled from Minneapolis to Redwood Falls with Kimberly Berry and two members of the Native Gangster Disciples gang, James Mata and Itanca Henry. That night the group attended a private party in Redwood Falls. Berry told the group that members of a rival gang, the Native Mob, would also be in attendance, so Mata brought a .40 caliber handgun to the party.

At the party, Henry and another individual flashed gang signs*fn1 at each other, argued about a peace treaty between the Native Gangster Disciples and the Native Mob, and began to shove each other. Skipintheday observed the argument, although he did not participate in it. The argument moved outside, and the shoving continued. At some point, an additional person arrived in a truck with a TEC-9 submachine gun. Skipintheday yelled a warning to his friends about the person with the submachine gun, and ran behind the house. He then began to hear "a volley of shots, and then a pause, and then more shots." When Skipintheday came out from behind the house, he saw Mata fighting someone to get control of the submachine gun. Skipintheday then went to the car the group had arrived in, and Mata came to the car after him, carrying the submachine gun. Skipintheday yelled to Berry, who had driven the car to the party, "[L]et's get out of here. We got to go." As a result of the shootings at the party that night, two people were seriously wounded, and one person was killed.

Skipintheday, Mata, Henry, and Berry left Redwood Falls intending to drive to Berry's house. As they left, Mata said that he had shot someone. Skipintheday told Berry, "[you] didn't see anything," and she responded, "[I] wasn't there * * * [I] didn't see anything."

Before the group made it to Berry's house, their car was stopped by the Lower Sioux reservation police. Skipintheday attempted to hide Mata's .40 caliber handgun and its ammunition on either side of the front console between the two front seats. Someone else hid the submachine gun under one of the seats.

Later, Skipintheday was interviewed by the Redwood Falls police. Knowing that Itanca Henry had an outstanding federal arrest warrant and wanting to conceal Henry's identity, Skipintheday referred to Henry repeatedly as "Robert" Henry. Skipintheday also denied witnessing much of what he actually observed that night.

Skipintheday ultimately pleaded guilty to being an accomplice after-the-fact under Minn. Stat. § 609.495, subd. 3,*fn2 in relation to three underlying crimes: first-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder, and first-degree assault for the benefit of a gang. At Skipintheday's plea hearing, he admitted that he gave false statements to police with the intent to help Mata and Henry "get away with the crime." Following sentencing proceedings, the district court determined that because Skipintheday was an accomplice after-the-fact to three underlying offenses, each related to a separate shooting victim, Skipintheday's crimes fell under a multiple-victim exception to the general rule under Minn. Stat. § 609.035 (2004), which typically permits only one sentence for crimes arising out of a single behavioral incident. See State v. Schmidt, 612 N.W.2d 871, 876 (Minn. 2000). Therefore, the district court gave Skipintheday multiple sentences--48 months, 48 months, and 52 months--for the three crimes.*fn3

On appeal, the court of appeals reversed and remanded for resentencing. The court determined that the crime of being an accomplice after-the-fact under Minn. Stat. § 609.495, subd. 3, is a crime against the administration of justice, not a crime against personal victims, and therefore determined that Skipintheday's crimes were not "multiple-victim crimes" for the purpose of multiple sentencing. The state now appeals that decision, arguing that the victims of the underlying shooting crimes were also victims of Skipintheday's accomplice-after-the-fact crimes.

Whether a defendant commits multiple-victim crimes is a question of law, which this court reviews de novo. See State v. Murphy, 545 N.W.2d 909, 914 (Minn. 1996). Typically, when a person commits multiple offenses that all arise from a single behavioral incident, Minn. Stat. § 609.035*fn4 allows a court to enter a sentence for only one of the crimes. Schmidt, 612 N.W.2d at 876. This court has explained that "[t]he philosophy behind the statute * * * [is] to protect against exaggerating the criminality of a person's conduct and to make both ...


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