Hennepin County District Court File No. 27-CR-09-45771
Lori Swanson, Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; and Michael O. Freeman, Hennepin County Attorney, Jean Burdorf, Assistant County Attorney, Minneapolis, Minnesota (for respondent)
David W. Merchant, Chief Appellate Public Defender, Jessica Merz Godes, Assistant Public Defender, St. Paul, Minnesota (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Ross, Presiding Judge; Bjorkman, Judge; and Kirk, Judge.
Appellant challenges his conviction of aiding and abetting second-degree intentional murder, arguing that (1) the state violated his right to due process by destroying potentially useful evidence, (2) the prosecutor committed misconduct during closing argument, (3) the district court erred by closing the courtroom for the final jury instructions and closing arguments, and (4) he is entitled to a restitution hearing. We affirm appellant's conviction but remand for further consideration of the restitution issue.
Late in the evening on August 31, 2009, a number of people were gathered near D.T.'s townhouse, drinking and listening to music. When D.T. opened his door to ask the group to move inside, he overheard two men arguing about a gun and recognized one of them as appellant William Lane. D.T. went back inside and, minutes later, heard gunshots. D.T. ran outside and saw the taillights of a dark truck heading south down the alley.
D.T.'s teenage son, C.T., was upstairs in his bedroom at the time and also heard the shots. C.T. looked out his window and saw Lane near the parking lot firing a gun toward a man later identified as C.D., who did not have a gun and appeared to be trying to avoid getting hit. C.T. saw Lane fire multiple times and thought C.D. might have been shot because he looked like he was limping.
D.T. called 911. Responding police officers collected one live .45 caliber round from the yard near D.T.'s townhouse and seven discharged cartridge casings (five .45 caliber and two 9 mm) from the area of the parking lot. Officers also interviewed D.T. and C.T. but could not find a victim.
Shortly thereafter, police received a call reporting a "slumper" in a blue Jeep Liberty at the end of the alley near D.T.'s townhouse. Responding officers found the Jeep crashed into a utility pole with C.D. in the driver's seat. C.D. was pronounced dead at the scene from a gunshot wound to the groin. Realizing that C.D. was the victim in the previously reported shooting, police photographed the Jeep and searched it and the surrounding area for weapons; they found none. Police seized the Jeep and towed it to a forensic garage for further analysis.
The following afternoon, officers recovered a .45 caliber handgun from S.S., an acquaintance of Lane. She explained that Lane and two other men came to her home shortly after the shooting, gave the gun to her mother, and told S.S. not to say anything to the police about him. Scientific testing matched the gun with the live .45 caliber round and discharged .45 caliber casings recovered from the scene of the shooting. Police also learned that on August 26, C.D. had been involved in an altercation with V.H. in which both fired guns but neither was shot. Lane was present during the altercation but did not participate.
On September 11, 2009, respondent State of Minnesota charged Lane with second-degree intentional murder; the state subsequently amended the charge to aiding and abetting second-degree murder. Police arrested Lane on November 24, 2009. He admitted to police that he was present when C.D. was shot but denied shooting him. Lane claimed that V.H. and a "buddy" shot C.D., explaining that the shooting was a continuation of the August 26 ...