Stearns County District Court File No. 73-CR-11-6942.
Lori Swanson, Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; and Janelle Kendall, Stearns County Attorney, Michael J. Lieberg, Assistant County Attorney, St. Cloud, Minnesota (for respondent)
David W. Merchant, Chief Appellate Public Defender, Davi Axelson, Assistant Public Defender, St. Paul, Minnesota (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Ross, Presiding Judge; Schellhas, Judge; and Larkin, Judge.
Appellant challenges his convictions of three fifth-degree controlled-substance crimes, arguing that he was denied his right to a fair trial because the prosecutor improperly vouched for the credibility of the state's main witness during closing argument. Because the alleged, unobjected-to misconduct did not affect appellant's substantial rights, we affirm.
Respondent State of Minnesota charged appellant Anthony Raymond Kreuter Jr. with three fifth-degree controlled-substance crimes, and a jury found appellant guilty of each offense. The charges arose from the following circumstances.
On May 23, 2011, an officer of the Eden Valley Police Department met with B.H., a confidential informant, to set up a controlled buy of marijuana from appellant at his home. The officer patted B.H. down and provided him with $40 in buy money. The officer did not fully search B.H.'s pockets, and after dropping B.H. off a block and a half from appellant's home, the officer briefly lost sight of B.H. At appellant's jury trial, B.H. testified that when he arrived at appellant's home, he gave appellant $40 and that appellant provided him with $40 worth of marijuana. The officer testified that he picked B.H. up after the controlled buy and that B.H. provided him with the marijuana he had purchased.
The officer arranged a second controlled buy between B.H. and appellant on May 24. The officer patted B.H. down and provided him with $120 in buy money and a tape recorder. The officer dropped B.H. off a block and a half from appellant's home and watched him walk to the home. B.H. testified that when he arrived at appellant's home, he gave appellant $120 and that appellant weighed and provided him with $120 worth of marijuana. B.H. recorded his conversation with appellant during the controlled buy, and the recording was played for the jury. The officer testified that he picked B.H. up after the controlled buy and that B.H. provided him with the marijuana he had purchased and the tape recorder. B.H. told the officer that the marijuana was stored under a china cabinet in appellant's bedroom.
On May 25, the officer executed a search warrant at appellant's home. The officer found 43.9 grams of marijuana and items that could be used for smoking or selling marijuana. The officer found the largest amount of marijuana under the china cabinet in appellant's bedroom, consistent with B.H.'s report. Most of the other items were found in appellant's bedroom.
Appellant argues that he was denied his right to a fair trial because the prosecutor committed misconduct by vouching for the credibility of B.H. Near the end of his closing argument, the prosecutor discussed the district court's instructions regarding the circumstances the jury could consider ...