Ramsey County District Court File No. 62-CR-10-6728
Lori Swanson, Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; and John J. Choi, Ramsey County Attorney, Thomas R. Ragatz, Assistant County Attorney, St. Paul, Minnesota (for respondent)
Mark Joseph Arens, St. Paul, Minnesota (pro se appellant)
Considered and decided by Smith, Presiding Judge; Peterson, Judge; and Chutich, Judge.
Appellant Marc Joseph Arens appeals his conviction of possession of shoplifting gear and the district court's order denying his petition for postconviction relief. Arens argues that the district court erred by refusing to grant an evidentiary hearing on his claim of ineffective assistance of counsel and by admitting physical evidence and his statements to the arresting officer. Arens asserts pro se arguments as well. Because the district court properly denied Arens's request for an evidentiary hearing and properly admitted the evidence and statement, and because we find Arens's pro se contentions to be without merit, we affirm.
On July 30, 2010, St. Anthony Police Officer James South responded to a call about a possible theft in progress at the St. Anthony Village Liquor Store. When he entered the store, Officer South made eye contact with the manager, who pointed out the suspect. Officer South decided to wait outside for the suspect to leave.
When the suspect emerged from the store, Officer South stopped him and identified him as appellant Marc Joseph Arens. Officer South asked Arens if he could search him and Arens said yes. Officer South patted him down and then searched a brown paper bag and a backpack that Arens was carrying. In the brown paper bag, Officer South found a six-pack of beer and, in the backpack, he saw two items wrapped in aluminum foil.
After he searched Arens, Officer South told Arens that he was not under arrest but that he was being detained for further investigation. Officer South asked Arens to wait in the squad car and the officer left the car door open while he went to speak with the liquor store manager. The store manager told him that Arens had paid for the beer. Officer South returned to the squad car and searched Arens's backpack a second time, unwrapping the items in aluminum foil to reveal DVDs and finding several other sheets of aluminum foil in a manila envelope.
Based on his experience, Officer South knew that wrapping DVDs in aluminum foil was a means of transporting them past store security systems. Officer South asked Arens where he got the DVDs, and Arens responded that he brought them from home. After Officer South asked again, Arens admitted that he had taken the DVDs from a nearby Wal-Mart.
Officer South then told Arens that he was under arrest, locked him in the back of his squad car, and drove to the nearby Wal-Mart. After he spoke with Wal-Mart personnel, Officer South returned to the squad car and Arens again admitted that he had stolen the DVDs from the store. Officer South drove Arens to the St. Anthony police department and read him his Miranda rights, after which Arens made no more statements.
Ramsey County charged Arens with possession of shoplifting gear. See Minn. Stat. § 609.521(b) (2010). Arens filed a motion to suppress all statements and admissions that he made and the physical evidence that Officer South discovered. The district court denied the motion in part, concluding that Arens consented to the search and that he was not in custody when he first admitted to stealing the DVDs. But the district ...