Hennepin County District Court File No. 27-CR-12-667
Lori Swanson, Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; and Michael O. Freeman, Hennepin County Attorney, Thomas A. Weist, Assistant County Attorney, Minneapolis, Minnesota (for respondent)
David W. Merchant, Chief Appellate Public Defender, Rochelle R. Winn, Assistant Public Defender, St. Paul, Minnesota (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Cleary, Presiding Judge; Hooten, Judge; and Huspeni, Judge.
Appellant Mahad Bashir Salad challenges his conviction of first-degree assault. He argues that the evidence was insufficient because he did not inflict great bodily harm when he stabbed the victim, which caused a three-centimeters-long cut, but subsequent exploratory surgery caused a one-foot-long scar. We affirm.
Appellant walked into a holiday party at a private residence, where he was told by several guests that he was not welcome. But appellant refused to leave, and instead tried to force his way past two guests, including the victim, C.P. When C.P. tried to push appellant out the door, appellant stabbed C.P. in the abdomen. C.P. and the other guests observed blood on C.P.'s shirt and intestines bulging from the stab wound. When a police officer arrived at the residence, he observed C.P. "bleeding pretty profusely" from a "pretty deep cut" on his abdomen. An ambulance transported C.P. to the hospital.
At the hospital, physicians treated C.P. for the stab wound. As the chief of surgery testified, "[C.P.] had a three-centimeter stab wound to his abdomen, and he had intestinal contents that were visible within this wound, meaning the laceration had gone through all the layers of his abdominal wall." To confirm the absence of life-threatening internal injuries or infections, C.P. underwent an exploratory laparotomy. To examine all the intestinal contents, the surgeons made a 12-inch incision. The incision required over 20 staples, and C.P. was hospitalized for four days.
When police arrested appellant later on the night of the incident, he had a bloody knife in his possession. The blood matched C.P.'s DNA. Respondent State of Minnesota charged appellant with first- and second-degree assault, in violation of Minn. Stat. §§ 609.221, subd. 1, .222, subd. 1 (2012). After a jury trial, appellant was found guilty of both charges and later sentenced to 84 months in prison. This appeal follows.
In considering a claim of insufficient evidence, we review the evidence in the light most favorable to the conviction. State v. Ortega, 813 N.W.2d 86, 100 (Minn. 2012). We will not disturb the verdict if the jury, acting with due regard for the presumption of innocence and the requirement of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, could reasonably conclude that the defendant was guilty of the charged offense. Bernhardt v. State, 684 N.W.2d 465, 476-77 (Minn. 2004).
A defendant is guilty of first-degree assault if he or she "assaults another and inflicts great bodily harm." Minn. Stat. § 609.221, subd. 1. "'Great bodily harm' means bodily injury which creates a high probability of death, or which causes serious permanent disfigurement, or which causes a permanent or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or ...