Dakota County District Court File No. 19HA-CR-09-5333
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kirk, Judge
This opinion will be unpublished and may not be cited except as provided by Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2012).
Considered and decided by Halbrooks, Presiding Judge; Kirk, Judge; and Klaphake, Judge.
Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.
On appeal from his conviction of criminal vehicular homicide and other charges related to a car accident, appellant argues that the district court abused its discretion by failing to give the jury an instruction on causation that included the doctrine of intervening, superseding causes. We affirm.
At approximately 5:00 p.m. on December 24, 2009, a car driven by appellant Jeffrey Arthur Martin collided with a car driven by S.S. at the intersection of Dodd Boulevard and Gerdine Path in Lakeville. As a result of the collision, S.S. suffered broken ribs, a concussion, and a cut on her forehead that left a scar. S.S.'s husband, E.L., who was riding in the front passenger seat of the car, suffered extensive chest injuries and internal bleeding, which resulted in his death. The state charged appellant with criminal vehicular homicide, among other things.
During the jury trial, several witnesses testified about the events leading up to the collision. S.S. testified that when the collision occurred she was driving her Cadillac east on Dodd Boulevard on her way to her daughter's home, and her husband, E.L., was riding in the front passenger seat. S.S. testified that she had traveled the same route many times, did not plan to turn at the intersection of Dodd Boulevard and Gerdine Path, did not activate her turn signal as she approached the intersection, and is accustomed to driving in the left lane on Dodd Boulevard, which is a four lane road with two lanes in each direction, because the right lane ends shortly after the intersection with Gerdine Path. As they approached the intersection, S.S. heard E.L. yell that a car was not going to stop and then she saw a big, black truck collide with their car.
A witness to the collision, C.U., testified that he stopped his car at a stop sign at the intersection of Gerdine Path and Dodd Boulevard, to the right of a black SUV that was also stopped at the stop sign. C.U. testified that he intended to continue straight through the intersection but he waited to cross because he observed two sets of headlights coming from the southwestern side on Dodd Boulevard. C.U. saw one car pass by on Dodd Boulevard, and he continued to wait for the second car to pass. He was unable to see the car itself, but he saw the car's headlights approaching. C.U. observed the black SUV enter the intersection and strike the second car, which he later observed was a Cadillac.
In contrast to the other witnesses, J.S. testified that at approximately 5:00 p.m., he and his wife, C.S., were driving east on Dodd Boulevard and stopped in the left lane at a stoplight at the intersection of Dodd Boulevard and Cedar Avenue. He observed that a Cadillac or a Buick was stopped next to them in the right lane. After the light turned green, both cars proceeded through the intersection and, shortly after crossing Cedar Avenue, the Cadillac entered his lane. J.S. moved over and honked his horn, and the Cadillac drove ahead of him down the center of the two eastbound lanes. When both cars approached the intersection of Dodd Boulevard and Gerdine Path, J.S. observed the Cadillac turn its turn signal on and partially move into the right turn lane. J.S. testified that he sped up, passed the Cadillac, and continued through the intersection with Gerdine Path. After he passed through the intersection, J.S. looked in his rearview mirror, saw the Cadillac start to move back into the left lane, and then observed the collision. C.S. also testified that she observed the driver of the Cadillac put on her turn signal, move into the turn lane, and slow down.
Lakeville Police Officer Shawn McMahon testified that he was dispatched to a car accident at 5:01 p.m. and, when he arrived at the scene of the accident, he observed that it appeared to be a "T-bone situation." He testified that the traffic conditions were bad, the roads were covered in snow, slush, and ice, and there was low light. Officer McMahon approached the Cadillac and spoke to the driver, who complained of pain. He observed that the driver had a large laceration on her forehead and had lost a large amount of ...