Ramsey County District Court File No. 62-CR-10-7824
Lori Swanson, Minnesota Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; and
John J. Choi, Ramsey County Attorney, Thomas R. Ragatz, Assistant County Attorney, St. Paul, Minnesota (for respondent)
David Merchant, Chief Appellate Public Defender, Roy G. Spurbeck, Assistant State Public Defender, St. Paul, Minnesota (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Ross, Presiding Judge; Peterson, Judge; and Smith, Judge.
On appeal from his conviction of two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct, appellant argues that (1) the district court erred by admitting hearsay statements the victim made to a nurse, and (2) the evidence is insufficient to support the jury's finding that appellant used force or coercion to sexually assault the victim. In a pro se supplemental brief, appellant makes additional arguments challenging his convictions. We affirm.
Fourteen-year-old V.C. left her home to go on a bike ride on the afternoon of June 18, 2009. While riding her bike, a man she did not know approached her and asked her to accompany him to the park. After leaving the park and approaching an alley, the man grabbed V.C.'s bike, pushed her up against the alley wall, exposed himself, "grabbed [V.C.'s] head and pushed it down" to his genitals and, although she tried to keep her mouth closed, he continued to push until he penetrated her orally. He next attempted to penetrate her anally and, when she resisted, stuck his hand down her shorts. Throughout the encounter, she repeatedly protested and pulled away, but the man persisted and eventually pulled her shorts down and penetrated her vaginally with his penis. The incident ended when V.C. ran to her bike and "biked as fast as [she] could home."
When V.C. returned home she was "sobbing and crying and borderline hysterical." She described the events to her mother. Her parents then brought her to Midwest Children's Resource Center (MCRC) at the Children's Hospital in St. Paul. At MCRC, Laurel Edinburgh, a pediatric nurse practitioner, interviewed and examined V.C. Edinburgh interviewed V.C. alone in an examination room to obtain V.C.'s medical history and then conducted a thorough physical examination, including testing for pregnancy, HIV, and syphilis. Based on the information Edinburgh gathered during the interview and examination, Edinburgh ordered medication for V.C. Edinburgh also collected samples for a sexual assault evidence kit. The DNA sample obtained from V.C.'s body matched that of appellant William Labon. Labon was arrested and was later charged with two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct.
Following the attack, the decline of V.C.'s mental and emotional condition prompted her parents to send her to an out-of-state treatment facility. V.C.'s therapist determined that returning to Minnesota would significantly damage her mental and emotional health and directed V.C. not to travel to Minnesota to testify at trial. Consequently, the state moved to admit the statements V.C. made during her MCRC interview with Edinburgh. Labon opposed the inclusion of these statements and wrote in a letter to the district court that "[t]he statements made to the doctors do not fit under other exceptions to the hearsay rule, such as the Medical Diagnosis Exception, as they deal with more than just what would be necessary for medical treatment." The district court ruled that V.C.'s statements to Edinburgh were admissible under the medical diagnosis hearsay exception of Minnesota Rule of Evidence 803(4).
A jury trial was held in December 2011 and Labon chose to proceed pro se. At the trial, the jury found Labon guilty of two counts of third-degree sexual conduct. See Minn. Stat. § 609.344, subd. 1(b), (c) (2008). The jury also found three aggravating factors, including V.C.'s vulnerability and the multiple forms of ...