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State v. Eckman

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

June 10, 2013

State of Minnesota, Respondent,
v.
Joseph Blade Eckman, Appellant.

UNPUBLISHED OPINION

Beltrami County District Court File No. 04-CR-11-887

Lori Swanson, Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; and Timothy R. Faver, Beltrami County Attorney, Randall R. Burg, Assistant County Attorney, Bemidji, Minnesota (for respondent)

David W. Merchant, Chief Appellate Public Defender, Michael F. Cromett, Assistant Public Defender, St. Paul, Minnesota (for appellant)

Considered and decided by Hudson, Presiding Judge; Schellhas, Judge; and Stauber, Judge.

SCHELLHAS, Judge

Appellant challenges his conviction of second-degree criminal sexual conduct. We affirm.

FACTS

Alleging that appellant Joseph Eckman sexually victimized his six-year-old nephew, J.M., respondent State of Minnesota charged him with one count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct under Minn. Stat. § 609.343, subd. 1(h)(iii) (2010).

Before trial, Eckman requested disclosure of information about J.M.'s 2009 allegations of criminal sexual conduct against Eckman in 2009, and the state provided transcripts of interviews of a sheriff and child-protection worker involved in the criminal investigation of J.M.'s 2009 allegations. But the state moved in limine to exclude evidence of J.M.'s 2009 allegations. Eckman opposed the state's motion and offered proof of the falsity of J.M.'s 2009 allegations, arguing that the evidence should be admitted because "a reasonable probability" existed that the allegations were false. The district court excluded the evidence, concluding that (1) Eckman's request that the evidence be admitted was untimely and (2) Eckman's proffered evidence to show that the allegations were false was inadequate.

The evidence at trial showed that, on March 9, 2011, J.M. spent the night at his paternal aunt's home and shared a bed with his five-year-old cousin. During that time, J.M.'s aunt discovered J.M. kneeling behind his cousin, exposing himself, and asking his cousin to lift her dress. In response to his aunt's questioning about where J.M. learned the behavior, he first identified his father and then identified his paternal grandfather. J.M.'s aunt knew that J.M. had not seen either his father or his paternal grandfather in a long time. J.M. then identified Eckman, his maternal uncle, and stated that Eckman "had sex with him." J.M. told his aunt that Eckman would put him on his grandpa's bed and stand behind him. J.M. said that he would cry and plead for Eckman to stop. J.M. also said that "it would happen on the living room . . . couch." J.M. told the aunt that he had told his mother that Eckman had sex with him, but she did not believe him.

The prosecutor played for the jury a recording of a nurse's March 17, 2011, interview of J.M., in which J.M. stated that, during multiple encounters that occurred at J.M.'s maternal grandfather's home when no one else was home, Eckman showed J.M. pornographic videos in his grandfather's room, exposed himself, touched J.M.'s private parts, and made J.M. touch Eckman's private parts.[1] After the nurse told J.M. about the importance of not keeping "bad secrets and secrets that can hurt kids" from grownups, J.M. stated, "You can't tell a police or my dad, ors my uncle will get tooken away"; "I don't want him taken away"; and "I'm keeping it a secret from the police." While age six, J.M. testified generally consistent with his March 17 interview.

The district court admitted Spreigl evidence of Eckman's two 2007 adjudications of fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct. The jury found Eckman guilty ...


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