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State v. Diggins

Supreme Court of Minnesota

August 28, 2013

State of Minnesota, Respondent,
v.
Val Derick Diggins, Appellant.

Office of Appellate Courts Hennepin County.

Lori Swanson, Attorney General, Saint Paul, Minnesota; and Michael O. Freeman, Hennepin County Attorney, Michael Richardson, Assistant Hennepin County Attorney, Minneapolis, Minnesota, for respondent.

Zachary A. Longsdorf, Longsdorf Law Firm, P.L.C., Lake Elmo, Minnesota, for appellant.

Dietzen, J. Took no part, Lillehaug, J.

SYLLABUS

1. The district court did not err by overruling appellant's Batson objection to the State's peremptory challenge of an African-American prospective juror. The State articulated race-neutral explanations for exercising the peremptory challenge, and appellant failed to prove that the challenge constituted purposeful racial discrimination.

2. The district court did not abuse its discretion by admitting evidence that appellant assaulted and threatened a witness two days before trial to prove consciousness of guilt.

Affirmed.

OPINION

DIETZEN, Justice.

Appellant Val Derick Diggins was found guilty by a Hennepin County jury of two counts of first-degree premeditated murder and two counts of first-degree felony murder arising out of the shooting deaths of Charles Woods-Wilson and Ira Brown, and three counts of first-degree aggravated robbery involving three other victims. The district court entered judgment of conviction and imposed sentence. On appeal, Diggins argues that the court erred by: (1) overruling his Batson objection to the State's peremptory challenge of an African-American prospective juror, and (2) admitting evidence that he assaulted and threatened a witness two days before trial. Because we conclude that the court did not err, we affirm Diggins' convictions. We also deny Diggins' motion for supplemental briefing.

In the early morning hours of October 31, 2007, police responded to a 911 call of shots fired in a north Minneapolis residence. The first police officer at the scene spotted two women, K.C. and L.E., on the roof of the house screaming hysterically for help. When officers entered the house, they discovered the bodies of Charles Woods-Wilson, who had been shot in the head, and Ira Brown, who had been shot multiple times in the back. Both men died from their gunshot wounds.

K.C. and L.E. told investigators that they, along with A.A. and Woods-Wilson, met Brown at his house that evening. During the evening, numerous individuals stopped by the house to purchase crack cocaine, including a man known as "Pops." Around 2:30 a.m., L.E. and Woods-Wilson had fallen asleep in the living room and Brown went upstairs. K.C. and A.A. were in the kitchen when they heard a knock at the back door. Pops entered, pulled out a handgun, and robbed them. Pops then headed into the living room and robbed L.E. and Woods-Wilson. After Pops took what they had, he walked up to Woods-Wilson and said: "You should have never f***ed with a ni***r like me, a stone ass ni***r like me." Pops put the gun to Woods-Wilson's head and pulled the trigger.

Hearing the shot, Brown ran downstairs and struggled with Pops to get the gun. During the struggle, Brown was shot and ran into the bedroom. As he did so, Pops shot him three times in the back. A.A. heard the gunshots and fled to a friend's house to contact police. K.C. and L.E. fled upstairs and climbed onto the roof where they called 911. K.C., L.E., and A.A. described Pops to investigators as an African-American male, 40 to 50 years of age, with a gray beard, and wearing blue mechanic's coveralls.

S.H. told investigators that he witnessed two conversations that evening involving a man nicknamed "Mo." Several hours before the shooting, S.H. was in an abandoned apartment building when he overheard a man offer Mo money and drugs if Mo would "take care of two people." A few hours later, S.H. heard Mo threatening Woods-Wilson. When S.H. learned the next day that Woods-Wilson had been killed, he told police he thought Mo was responsible and ...


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