Douglas County District Court File No. 21-CR-12-243
Lori Swanson, Attorney General, John B. Galus, Assistant Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; and Chad Larson, Douglas County Attorney, Alexandria, 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 Kirk, Presiding Judge; Hudson, Judge; and Bjorkman, Judge.
Jeffrey Paul Pennig hit his four-year-old son and shoved his wife while in a car in a fast-food-restaurant drive-through. He appeals from his domestic-assault convictions, arguing the evidence from two eyewitnesses contained discrepancies and because one witness had a previous record for dishonesty. Because we defer to the jury's determinations of witness credibility, we affirm.
In February 2012, Jeffrey Paul Pennig went to a fast-food restaurant in a car with his wife, Karen, his adult son, and his four-year-old son, M.P. Pennig was driving, Karen was in the front passenger seat, Pennig's adult son was behind Karen, and M.P. was in the rear passenger seat behind Pennig. While in the drive-through, M.P. threw a temper tantrum because he wanted an ice cream cone. Pennig turned in his seat and hit M.P. in the mouth. When Karen protested, Pennig shoved her towards the passenger-side door and cursed at her. After they received their food order, M.P. continued his tantrum, and Pennig reacted by pulling the car over, pulling M.P. out of the car, grabbing his face hard enough to leave marks, and slapping him. M.P. ran crying to Karen, who was still in the front passenger seat, and Pennig returned to the car and drove away.
An eyewitness told a personal friend, who works in the county social services office, about the incident. Social services staff reported it to the police. A police investigator and a social worker visited Karen's apartment and asked her to come to the police station to be interviewed. After the investigator told her what the eyewitness had reported, Karen stated that Pennig had assaulted her and M.P. The investigator then arrested Pennig, who denied assaulting either Karen or M.P.
The state charged Pennig with two counts of domestic assault in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.2242, subd. 1(2) (2010). Because Pennig had two prior domestic-assault convictions, he was charged with felonies in accordance with Minn. Stat. § 609.2242, subd. 4. At trial, Pennig's adult son contradicted the testimony of Karen and the eyewitness, stating that Pennig never grabbed or hit M.P.
The jury convicted Pennig on both domestic-assault counts, and the district court sentenced him to consecutive 30-month and 366-day prison sentences.
Pennig appeals his ...