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State v. Green

August 10, 2006

STATE OF MINNESOTA, RESPONDENT,
v.
JAMES MICHAEL GREEN, APPELLANT.



SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

1. The district court's instruction on accomplice liability for a crime provided a correct statement of the law even though it omitted the words "to the person" in describing the element of foreseeability.

2. The district court's use of a permissive inference instruction in instructing the jury that it could consider defendant's flight as evidence of his guilt was harmless error.

Affirmed.

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

Ramsey County

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

OPINION

Appellant James Green appeals from his first and second-degree murder and attempted murder convictions arising out of the shooting of three people during the course of a robbery. Green argues that the district court's submission of two pattern jury instructions--CRIMJIG 4.01 (accomplice liability) and CRIMJIG 4.04 (flight raising a permissive inference of guilt)--denied him a fair trial. Green raises several other pro se arguments. We affirm.

Relationships and Roles of the Participants

On January 11, 2004, Green was spending the day with his friend, Daniel Valtierra, who was visiting from Seattle, Washington. While they were sleeping early in the morning of the 12th, an acquaintance of Green's, Michael Medal-Mendoza, called Green asking to buy an ounce of methamphetamine and some ecstasy for a group of unknown women who were from out of town. Green was acquainted with Medal-Mendoza through several prior drug deals. Valtierra and Medal-Mendoza did not know each other.

Green had the ecstasy but not enough methamphetamine to fill the order so he decided to connect Medal-Mendoza with another drug dealer to make some money for himself. Green called Wayne Costilla and asked if he had an ounce of methamphetamine to sell. Costilla did not have that amount, but he was with friends, Andria Crosby and Ron Glasgow, who did. Glasgow agreed to sell the methamphetamine to Costilla, who would sell it to Green, who would sell it to Medal-Mendoza, who would sell it to the out-of-town women.

The Drug Deal

Green and Costilla remained as the contact persons for the two groups and arranged to meet at a gas station in Saint Paul to complete the transaction. Crosby, Glasgow, and Costilla drove to the gas station and waited for a few minutes. Green called them back and told them that he, Valtierra, and Medal-Mendoza were delayed at a Perkins restaurant. Costilla changed the plan and told Green to meet them at Costilla's house in Saint Paul.

Crosby, Glasgow, and Costilla arrived at Costilla's house between 3:00 and 3:30 a.m. After about twenty minutes, Green arrived at Costilla's house and went inside alone. Valtierra and Medal-Mendoza stayed in the car. Glasgow gave Green a sample of the methamphetamine and he brought it out to Medal-Mendoza. Medal-Mendoza confirmed its quality. Costilla came outside shortly thereafter and invited all three in.

While inside, Medal-Mendoza began talking on the phone to the out-of-town women and Valtierra sat on the couch next to Glasgow. Green testified that he overheard Medal-Mendoza's conversation and realized that the out-of-town women were hesitant about the price and seemed to have found another source. Medal-Mendoza ended the conversation by telling the women that he would get them a lower price.

Green testified that he, Medal-Mendoza, and Valtierra went back out to the car and Medal-Mendoza called the women back. The women cancelled their order and Medal-Mendoza became upset. Green testified that Medal-Mendoza said he was going to buy the drugs anyway and asked Green if he would request that Glasgow either drop the price or loan him the drugs. Green acknowledged that it would be "very rare" for a drug seller to loan a stranger such a large quantity of drugs.

The Shooting

In the trial testimony, there were three versions of how the shooting took place. Crosby testified that after about thirty minutes Medal-Mendoza, Valtierra, and Green kicked open the door and "rushed through the doors like Charlie's Angels with their guns flying." She said she saw a gun in each person's hand and specifically identified Green as having a black gun. She said Medal-Mendoza was the leader and that Green and Valtierra stood behind him. Crosby testified that the following conversation took place while Medal-Mendoza pointed a gun at Glasgow:

Medal-Mendoza: "Motherf*****. I am going to rob you."

Glasgow: "Motherf*****, you are not going to rob me."

Medal-Mendoza: "I will shoot you."

Glasgow: "It looks like you are going to have to shoot me then because you sure aren't robbing me."

Crosby testified that Medal-Mendoza then shot Glasgow and Costilla in the head and Crosby in the leg. The three men then fled the house. Crosby testified that after being shot she fell to the floor and pretended that she was dead. A short time later someone came back inside, "nudged" her in the ribs, took her purse, and fled again.

Valtierra testified that he decided to go inside with Green and Medal-Mendoza but went in a few seconds behind them. He said, "[a]s soon as I come in, only thing I remember was, 'shoot me.' It was boom. I just remember Ron getting hit one time in his chest." Valtierra said that Green brushed past him as he fled from the house as soon as the first shot was fired. Valtierra then fled as well. Valtierra also testified that ...


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