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State of Minnesota v. Dennis Lloyd Hudson

April 22, 2013


Hennepin County District Court File No. 27-CR-11-26167

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Schellhas, 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This opinion will be unpublished and may not be cited except as provided by Minn.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 Worke, Presiding Judge; Kalitowski, Judge; and Schellhas, Judge.



Appellant challenges his conviction of terroristic threats, arguing that the district court abused its discretion by admitting (1) Spreigl evidence of appellant's alleged threat to punch his sister earlier the same day on which he made terroristic threats to the victim and (2) evidence that appellant allegedly threatened the victim outside the jury's presence during a trial break. We affirm.


Respondent State of Minnesota charged appellant Dennis Hudson for making terroristic threats against J.C. in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.713, subd. 1 (2010). The state listed Hudson's sister on its witness list. Hudson's sister lived in the same apartment building as J.C. Earlier in the day that Hudson threatened J.C., Hudson's sister reported to the police that Hudson "made terroristic threats to her, basically saying I'm going to punch you in the face." Before trial, Hudson sought to exclude his sister's testimony about his threat to her. Although Hudson acknowledged that the police "trespassed"*fn1 him from his sister's apartment building earlier in the day on which he allegedly committed terroristic threats against J.C., he argued, among other things, that his sister's testimony about the incident would be irrelevant under Minn. R. Evid. 401 and more prejudicial than probative under Minn. R. Evid. 403. The district court ruled that Hudson's sister's testimony about the threat incident was inadmissible under rule 403 but permitted admission of law-enforcement statements that they responded to an incident and that they trespassed Hudson from the property.

On the first day of trial, during the state's direct examination, J.C. identified Hudson as the individual who entered his apartment, grabbed him, and threatened to shoot and kill him if he did not give Hudson $100 or his television. J.C. testified that, immediately after the incident, he ran outside and called 911. The district court admitted the recorded 911 call and permitted the state to play it for the jury. J.C. told the 911 operator that Hudson "was going to steal [J.C.'s] TV"; that Hudson told J.C. that he "better have a hundred dollar, [or] I'm gonna blow your head off" and that J.C. was either "gonna die or . . . give [Hudson] everything [J.C.] own[ed]"; and Hudson threatened to "put a gun in [J.C.'s] head." J.C. told the 911 operator that he felt scared that Hudson would return and kill him.

During a trial break, the prosecutor informed the district court that one of the deputies informed the parties that he saw [Hudson] show something on a tablet of paper to . . . [J.C.] . . . while they were listening to [Hudson's attorney] read the statement. . . . The deputy came back; attempted to look at the notepad that . . . Hudson had at his table. [Hudson's attorney] would not allow him to do that. [J.C.] jumped in and said that, yes, when . . . Hudson was leaning over and laughing, that [Hudson] did show something to [J.C.] on the notepad and that [J.C.] felt threatened and I asked to be able to see what was on the notepad and it's been refused and I don't know what the other deputies saw. But, quite frankly, [J.C.] is very upset. He feels very intimated.

Additionally, J.C. informed the court that Hudson made a gesture to him that "was a teardrop" and "means you're going to kill somebody." J.C. asked to suspend his testimony until the following Monday because he was "very upset." The district court granted J.C.'s request.

Before the trial resumed with J.C.'s cross-examination, the prosecutor sought the district court's permission to elicit testimony from J.C. about Hudson's threat to J.C., arguing that the evidence was probative of Hudson's criminal intent as to the charged offense, because, "at the next opportunity . . . , [Hudson] threatened [J.C.] again." Over Hudson's objection that the evidence was irrelevant, highly prejudicial, and "tantamount to . . . Spreigl conduct evidence," the district court allowed admission of the evidence. The court concluded that the threat evidence was relevant to intent or knowledge of guilt, noting, "Even if [the alleged threat evidence] does fall under 404(b) or Spreigl, which I'm convinced that it does, it's conduct during the court proceeding rather than a prior bad act or crime." The state elicited the threat-evidence testimony from J.C. during its redirect examination.

Richfield Police Department Officer Aric Gallatin testified that, after responding to J.C.'s 911 call, J.C. relayed to him that Hudson told J.C. to give Hudson $100; told J.C. that Hudson would take J.C.'s television after J.C. told him that he did not have $100; and J.C. felt scared when Hudson then told him, "You're going to die tonight." As to Hudson's conflict with his sister, ...

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