Goodhue County District Court File No. 25-CR-11-3205
Lori Swanson, Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; and Stephen Betcher, Goodhue County Attorney, Red Wing, Minnesota (for respondent)
David W. Merchant, Chief Appellate Public Defender, Davi E. Axelson, Assistant Public Defender, St. Paul, Minnesota (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Halbrooks, Presiding Judge; Larkin, Judge; and Rodenberg, Judge.
On appeal from his conviction of multiple counts of first- and second-degree criminal sexual conduct, appellant argues that the district court erred in admitting vouching testimony from a county social worker. We affirm.
On June 9, 2011, appellant Simon Christopher Mueller was charged in Goodhue County district court with nine counts of criminal sexual conduct involving then three-year-old K.M. and then five-year-old T.W. On December 22, 2011, appellant was charged with five counts of criminal sexual conduct involving then six-year-old R.P. Appellant requested joinder and waived his right to a jury trial, and the case was tried to the district court.
The district court considered 24 pretrial motions filed by appellant, requesting, in part:
12. (a) [A]n Order prohibiting the State from eliciting "vouching" testimony from witnesses for the State regarding the purported truthfulness of statements made by the complainants or other State's witnesses.
(b) [A]n Order directing counsel for the State to admonish all of the State's witnesses to refrain from volunteering such vouching testimony.
The district court granted appellant's motions in limine in part, prohibiting the state from eliciting vouching testimony and requiring the state to prepare its witnesses prior to trial to ensure that each would refrain from volunteering vouching testimony.
At trial, all three child victims testified. Each child described in detail repeated sexual abuse perpetrated by appellant ...