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State of Minnesota v. Pierre Fernando Watson

April 15, 2013

STATE OF MINNESOTA, RESPONDENT,
v.
PIERRE FERNANDO WATSON, APPELLANT.



Hennepin County District Court File No. 27-CR-11-15849

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

SYLLABUS Under Minn. Stat. § 609.035, subd. 3 (2010), a district court may separately sentence a defendant for the offenses of certain persons not to possess firearms in violation of Minn. Stat. § 624.713, subd. 1(2) (2010), i.e., a felon-in-possession-of-a-firearm offense, and receiving or possessing a firearm, the serial number or other identification of which has been obliterated, removed, changed, or altered in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.667(2) (2010), notwithstanding that both offenses were committed as part of the same conduct.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Schellhas, Judge

Affirmed

Considered and decided by Worke, Presiding Judge; Kalitowski, Judge; and Schellhas, Judge.

OPINION

SCHELLHAS, Judge

Appellant challenges his convictions of certain persons not to possess firearms and possession of a firearm on which the serial number or other identification has been obliterated, removed, changed, or altered, arguing that the prosecutor committed prejudicial misconduct and that the district court erred by sentencing appellant for both crimes when they were part of the same course of conduct. We affirm.

FACTS

On the evening of May 30 and early-morning hours of May 31, 2011, appellant Pierre Watson attended a party at his sister's house. Also attending the party were two males whom Watson believed had information about his friend's murder in June 2010. Watson approached the males, and the discussion "started getting loud," according to Watson's girlfriend, J.W. When J.W. could not persuade Watson to leave the party, she called Watson's mother and asked her to come to the party. Watson's mother came to the party, and Watson briefly got into her car, but he exited the car and returned to the party. J.W. then left the party with Watson's mother, who drove around the block and returned to the party. J.W. observed Watson and one of the males "fighting over a gun" and the other male aiming a second gun. Watson's mother called 911, provided a fictitious name, and reported that "a gang of boys" at the party had guns. Another party attendee also called 911 and reported the fight, and J.W. also called 911 and stated, "[T]hey got some guns! Please come!"

Shortly after J.W.'s 911 call, Minneapolis Police Officers Seth Porras and Kurt Schoonover arrived at the scene. Upon arrival, Officer Porras observed Watson on top of a male, who was on the ground and wearing a white shirt. Officer Porras observed Watson punching the male in the face and two females attempting to pull Watson off the male. Officer Porras instructed Watson to stop fighting and attempted to pull him off of the male. Watson pulled away from Officer Porras three times, and the officer put his arms around Watson's waist, felt a gun in his waistband, and yelled, "Gun." Officer Porras struggled with Watson, who retrieved the gun from his waistband and dropped it. Officer Porras then took possession of the gun.

J.W. testified that, when the police arrived, they tackled Watson as he was getting up off the ground and that, after the police had "the gun," "they rushed [Watson] and they started beating him." Watson's mother testified that the male with whom Watson had the altercation "scooted" the gun under Watson and ran away from the scene. She also testified that the police "picked [Watson] up and as soon as they saw the gun, . . . slammed him back on the ground." On cross-examination, Watson's mother admitted that Watson had his hands on the gun and was holding it. The gun was a handgun with bullets in the clip and one in the chamber. The serial number on the handgun had been removed.

Respondent State of Minnesota charged Watson under Minn. Stat. § 624.713, subd. 1(2), certain persons not to possess firearms, and under Minn. Stat. § 609.667(2), receiving or possessing a firearm on which the serial number or other identification has been obliterated, removed, changed, or altered. Watson stipulated that he was ineligible to possess a firearm and, based on a separate stipulation, the district court instructed the jury on the defense of necessity. During closing argument, the prosecutor argued that the necessity defense was not available to Watson if he created the emergency situation that led to ...


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